Teens sought for trial of new mental health app

Published by  Communications

On 21st Jun 2021

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are looking for young people with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to take part in a new trial.

The research team will be testing a new web-based programme, which provides personalised therapy and support to young people recovering from PTSD.

The research team, which has received funding from the Medical Research Council, are seeking to recruit young people aged between 12 and 17.

Prof Richard Meiser-Stedman from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “The app we’re testing has been designed with input from young people. The treatment programme delivers the same therapy and support that has proven effective in face-to-face sessions with children and adolescents affected by PTSD.

“As well as having the potential to cut waiting times for therapy for PTSD, the online programme removes the need for visits to clinics at a set time – something that could appeal to young people and their parents.

“We also hope that online therapy delivered through the app could ensure that more young people affected by PTSD receive treatment more quickly,” he added.

The project is being led by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with teams at King’s College London, Oxford University, Cambridge University and UEA.

They are conducting the clinical trial at sites in south London, Cambridge, East Anglia and Oxford but the online delivery means participants can self-refer from any part of England.

Although the Covid pandemic has seen a lot of therapy transferred online, the app and website were developed before Covid hit – with the aim of treating many young people currently waiting for therapy.

Dr Patrick Smith, from King’s College London, was part of the collaborative that evaluated the initial face-to-face therapy and developed the app.

He said: “The app and website are personalised to respond to the particular needs and circumstances of the young person using them. A named therapist calls the young person at least once a week over the course of the 12-week programme to provide help and support.”

Many of the clinicians and researchers were involved in developing and trialling cognitive therapy amongst adolescents affected by PTSD more than a decade ago. It is now one of the nationally recommended treatment options for young people.

Dr Smith added: “It is important that PTSD symptoms are addressed during adolescence as this is a time when young people are developing skills essential to building and maintaining friendships and relationships; as well as facing exams that will have a significant impact on their opportunities and choices in life.”

To find out more about the trial visit www.optyc.org.

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