Study shows Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy could improve care for young people

The Child Oriented Mental Health Intervention Centre (COMIC) has announced the results of a recent research study.

The study, with young people with low mood and depression, used a self-help interactive computer programme called Stressbusters, which guided patients through the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It was found to have the potential to improve access to psychological therapies for those on waiting lists and by enabling improvements in some young people could in turn reduce waiting lists within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

The Centre is a collaborative venture between the University of York (Hull York Medical Centre) and the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and is led by Professor Barry Wright.

The study compared two different treatment approaches on top of child mental health care as usual. The study team investigated Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CCBT) over 8 sessions compared with access to 4 high quality self-help websites about low mood and depression splitting 139 young people into two groups.

Most of these young people received CCBT in a private setting within their own school, and qualitative interviews showed that they reported this to be helpful and supportive. A 4 month report from this study suggested improvements for those children accessing CCBT.

The 12 month findings show that both groups improved overall but that there was no statistically significant difference between CCBT and access to websites and no differences in the health resource usage between the two groups at one year. Many young people went on to access alternative forms of therapy such as face to face treatment in child mental health services or school counselling.

Both CCBT and access to online self-help website support were found to be helpful but some young people continue to have low mood and depression and will need other forms of treatment such as face to face therapy or medication. Further research needs to be done including preventive treatment.

Professor Barry Wright said “The findings suggest that CCBT could improve the care of children and young people, particularly early on if they are on waiting lists. With large numbers of young people coming forward with mental health problems we need to find a range of better and alternative ways of supporting young people in recovery. We need to continue to expand the options available and increase resources for youth mental health services if we are to be comfortable that as a society we are doing enough. ”

You can read the full report here

The COMIC research team seeks to improve the lives of hearing and deaf children and young people. The main aim is to develop and research mental health interventions for deaf and hearing children which are accessible, child friendly and child centred.

Find out more about COMIC.

Find out more about Professor Barry Wright.