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Research and Projects

MBCT-YP: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to prevent relapse in young people

Theme: CLAHRC - Mental Health & Dementia
Status: Live


The original question was prioritised in the PenCLAHRC December 2015 prioritisation round.  Mindfulness involves bringing a non-judgemental intention to attend to the present moment including bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and environmental stimuli. MBCT is an eight-session group intervention program that combines mindfulness practice with cognitive behavioural elements. Research evidence suggests that for adults MBCT is an effective and cost-effective treatment for people with recurrent depression and helps them to stay well in the long-term. It has been recommended as a treatment in National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines since 2004. It was singled out in the 2009 NICE Depression Guideline as a key priority for implementation in adult treatment. Research investigating MBCT’s effectiveness with children and young people is lacking.

Project aims and objectives

The project aims to investigate the feasibility of MBCT as an intervention for young people at risk of a depression relapse. We aim to pilot a manualised MBCT intervention adapted for use with young people attending a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) who have recovered from depression but have residual symptoms, alongside a parallel intervention for their parents. Specifically, we want to evaluate whether the intervention is feasible and acceptable for young people, their parents and the clinicians working with them, and whether the parallel course for parents is a useful addition to the adult MBCT model. If feasible, we will apply for funding to test the intervention’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Project activity

  1. Identify core research group and project partners
  2. Finalise intervention development and feasibility test
  3. Develop research proposal to evaluate intervention

We have conducted a clinical audit of CAMHS services for children with emotional disorders to establish the size of the target population. Additionally, the PPI group have produced a leaflet to support young people with home practice.

We are currently in stage 3 of the project.

Anticipated outputs and impacts

We will publish an academic paper summarising our findings form the feasibility work.

If feasible and effective, there is potential for this intervention to be the core relapse prevention offer in the NHS for children and young people with recurrent emotional disorder.

Related PenCLAHRC projects

Related publications

Kuyken W, Weare, Ukoumunne OC, Vicary R, Motton N, Burnett R, Cullen C, Hennelly S, Huppert F. Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: non-randomised controlled feasibility study.
British Journal of Psychiatry 2013, Jun.

Norman S, Dean S, Hansford L, Ford T. Clinical practitioner’s attitudes towards use of routine outcome monitoring within child and adolescent mental health services: a qualitative study of two Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2014, Oct; 19 (4) 

Rotheray S, Racey D, Rodgers L, McGilloway S, Berry V, Ford T. Innovations in Practice: Further evidence on the effectiveness of the strengths and difficulties added value score as an outcome measure for child and adolescent services. Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2014.


Dr Rachel Hayes. University of Exeter Medical School
Patrick Smith, King’s College London
Jessica Richardson, South London and Maudsley Trust (SLAM)
Jerry Fox, University of Exeter Mood Disorders Centre