A new trial which tested a computerized version of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) suggests it may be an effective option for addressing depression in children and young adults, especially those who are reluctant to seek help, and may reduce long waiting lists for treatment in the UK.
Around 2 to 4 percent of adolescents suffer from depression. CBT, a version of what known as talk therapy, is widely and effectively used in the mental health services to help people struggling with depression and anxiety. Reviews of CBT for adolescent depression have shown that it is effective and currently one of the main treatment options recommended for this age group.
Although it is important that young people receive early treatment, the availability of effective mental health treatments with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is limited, with limited staff numbers and long waiting times.
To meet this need, researchers at the University of York in England looked at the clinical and cost effectiveness of delivering a computerized CBT program (CCBT).
“Computerized forms of CBT could offer a wider, faster delivery of CBT. Given the importance of early treatment, this study shows that CCBT can also be offered in a cost-effective manner,” said Professor Barry Wright from the Child Oriented Mental Health Intervention Centre.
“CCBT is easily accessible and addresses some young people’s reluctance to access mental health services. CCBT may reduce this barrier in providing easy access in the community, without need for regular face-to-face contact.”
The trial which ran in community and clinical settings involved young people, ages 12 to 18, who were suffering with low mood or depression. Most of the 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.
“The study suggests that CCBT may have a place in the care of children and young people, particularly early on if they are on waiting lists, however 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,” said Wright.
“Further research needs to be done to explore the place of the different treatments available for young people with low mood and depression in the care pathway. This includes preventive treatment.”
Source: University of York