Classroom CBT to be piloted

Classroom cognitive behavioural therapy is to be given to teenagers at risk of depression as part of a government-backed trial.

If successful the CBT intervention could be rolled out to the rest of the UK, say researchers.

The NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme (HTA) is providing £1.2m for the randomised-controlled pilot trial on children aged 13-16 from comprehensive schools in Bath, Bristol, Nottingham and Swindon

Around one in ten children are at high risk of becoming seriously depressed, say researchers.

But a school-based CBT depression prevention programme called the Resourceful Adolescent Programme (RAP) is effective in reducing depressive symptoms in high-risk children, claim researchers.

Pupils in the pilot will completing a questionnaire, and then be screened as either being at low risk of getting depressed, high risk or probably already depressed.

School classes will then be randomly assigned to receive RAP, a placebo intervention or the standard curriculum-based personal health and social education class.

RAP, which was developed in Australia and targets depressive cognitions and mood, will be run in over ten weeks. Sessions will be led by mental health professionals.

“Depression is a serious problem amongst adolescents that can lead to mental health problems in later life,” said Professor Paul Stallard from the Mental Health Research and Development Unit at the University of Bath, who is leading the pilot which begins this month.

“Studies have shown that if we give young people the tools that can help them build resilience, they can avoid these issues becoming a problem in later life.

“If this trial is successful, we hope to be able to roll-out this programme to schools throughout the country.”

* Full details of the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme research here

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