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Virtually Free – a UK-based technology start up that develops apps to improve emotional health – today announces it is teaming up with Anxiety UK, the UK’s largest charity dedicated to anxiety disorders to raise awareness of phobias through a joint initiative for this Halloween.

Spider phobia affects up to 6% of us (Schmitt & Muri, 2009) and those who suffer from it are easy targets from pranksters, particularly during Halloween. For some people this condition can be very troubling and distressing.

Sometimes sufferers are misunderstood and even ridiculed. Fortunately, spider phobia can be treated in a short space of time using a technique known as ‘exposure therapy’. It involves gradually coming into contact with spiders until they no longer cause the person to have an extreme fear reaction.

Even though the treatment is fairly simple and effective, access to it can be difficult and many people suffering from this and other phobias never seek help. To give people with spider phobia the motivation to try to overcome their fears while also helping to raise awareness of phobias and other anxiety disorders,Anxiety UK and Virtually Free have teamed up to create the Halloween Face your Fear Challenge.

They are asking people with spider phobia to come forward and get their family, friends and neighbours to sponsor them and support them to confront their fear for Halloween. All donations will go to Anxiety UK so it can continue its work to combat these conditions.

Virtually Free has created an app for iPhone and iPad called Phobia Free (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/phobia-free/id627935349?mt=8) that helps people overcome spider phobia using progressively more realistic spiders and an augmented reality tarantula. During the month of October the app will be free so people with spider phobia will have the means to overcome their fear.

Nicky Lidbetter, Anxiety UK CEO, said: “This is an excellent way to help people with spider phobia overcome their fears while also helping to raise funds for Anxiety UK.

“The Phobia Free app has been well-received by those who have tried it to date and we would strongly recommend anyone wanting to tackle their fears to try this app and see for themselves the difference it can make,” she added.

“We want to raise awareness of anxiety problems such as phobias. We want people that suffer from these to feel confident to come forward and seek help. We also believe in Anxiety UK’s mission and we wanted to support them. We hope this first Halloween Face your Fear campaign will improve the understanding of these conditions and raise some much-needed funds for Anxiety UK’s very important mission,” said Dr. Andres Fonseca, CEO of Virtually Free Ltd.

To participate in the challenge, all that is necessary is to get family and friends to pledge any amount to sponsor the person facing their fear. Phobia sufferers can use Phobia Free or any other method to overcome their phobia.

The challenge is to take a picture of themselves as close to a real spider as possible and posting it on the Anxiety UK facebook page. The challenge has to be completed before midnight on 31st October.

Donations to Anxiety UK can be made by post, via http://www.justgiving.com/stressfreeapp/, or by texting INCY31 £(amount) to 70070. Alternatively entrants can create their own donations page at http://www.justgiving.com for friends and family to sponsor them.

About Virtually Free Ltd

Virtually Free (http://virtually-free.com/) develops apps to make therapy more appealing, accessible and affordable. Using gamification, serious games and augmented reality, the company seeks to recreate clinical therapies and bring them to mobile devices.

The company was founded in 2012 by two psychiatrists and a game developer. Doctors Russell Green and Andres Fonseca are members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Britain and have been helping patients recover from mental health conditions for 15 years. They have multiple peer-reviewed international publications and lecture at Sheffield University and University College London respectively. Richard has developed games for 20 years and worked on major franchises such as Tomb Raider.

They founded Virtually Free because they believe it is important to give people the tools to improve themselves without having to wait, jump through referral hoops or pay excessive therapy fees.

 

Read the full Press Release here: Face Your Fear of Spiders 
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