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Improving the mental health of children and young people with long term conditions

Posted on November 10th 2015

A team from PenCLAHRC and the University of Exeter, in collaboration with clinicians from Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Institute of Child Health at University College London, have been awarded a grant of £285,000 to carry out a study which aims to improve the understanding of the best ways to support children and young people with long term physical health conditions. Many young people experience feelings of depression and anxiety, as a result of their physical condition, and display disruptive behaviour, which in turn can cause problems for the treatment and management of their condition.

The project, funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme, will critically assess all the relevant published research studies to assess how well treatments aimed at improving the mental health of children and young people with long term conditions work. The team will also explore the factors that might enhance or limit the beneficial delivery of treatments and whether the treatments are good value for money. 

The project team will work with children and young people with first-hand experience of long-term conditions and mental health issues, and their families, as well as the health care practitioners that work with them to ensure that the work is meaningful and relevant.

Project lead, Dr Jo Thompson-Coon, commented:

"Children with a physical illness are up to four times more likely to have mental health difficulties than children who are physically well but are less likely to access interventions for these than children without physical illness.  Children with mental and physical illness need effective integrated healthcare.  The aim of this project is to improve the understanding of the complex relationship between physical and mental health and to build the evidence base for the use of treatments in this population."

Co-applicant, Roz Shafran, Professor of Translational Psychology at UCL Institute of Child Health added:

"There is currently a strong emphasis on addressing mental health problems in the context of long term physical conditions due to their significant personal, societal and economic impact. Understanding how such problems are best addressed is vital to improving the services offered to young people and their families. It is fantastic to be part of such a great initiative."


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