Press Release -
18 September 2008
More than 7,000 school pupils from across the UK will be taking
part in the trial of a new positive thinking programme led by the
University of Bath designed to prevent children developing problems
Around one in ten children have symptoms which place them at high
risk of becoming seriously depressed. If left unmanaged, these symptoms
could have a significant impact upon the child’s everyday life and
increase the possibility of mental health problems in young adulthood.
The £1.25 million programme, funded by the NHS Health Technology
Assessment Programme (HTA), will involve 13-16 year olds from schools
in Bath, Bristol, Nottingham, Swindon and Wiltshire.
The programme uses a technique known as Cognitive Behavioural
Therapy (CBT) which has been shown to prevent young people from
developing mental health problems by giving them skills which help
promote positive thinking, coping and problem solving.
As part of their lessons in Personal Social & Health Education
(PSHE), the pupils will be taught how to acknowledge their personal
strengths, identify negative thought processes and develop problem
This kind of positive health intervention could help make a
significant reduction to the risk of developing mental health problems.
The whole class approach will benefit all children by helping them
develop a robust approach to the challenges of life.
“Depression is a serious problem amongst adolescents that can lead
to mental health problems in later life,” said Professor Paul Stallard
from the Mental Health Research & Development Unit at the
University of Bath, who is leading the project.
“Studies have shown that if we give young people the tools that can
help them build resilience, they can avoid these issues becoming a
problem in later life.
“If this trial is successful, we hope to be able to roll-out this programme to schools throughout the country.”
The programme involves academics from the universities of Bath,
Bristol and Nottingham and the Peninsular Medical School, and is linked
to local clinical services in the areas the trial will be taking place.
Following an initial screening, the CBT programme will be delivered
in 10 weekly classroom sessions. The researchers will compare the
effects of the programme being delivered by teachers and by specially
trained facilitators from outside the school with current PSHE lessons.
Further assessments will be carried out immediately after the CBT programme and at six months and one year after the trial.
These assessments will look at whether the programme is successful
in reducing the rates of depressive symptoms amongst children and
particularly those who were initially identified with severe symptoms.
A pilot programme will take place in January 2009 with the main study taking place between September 2009 and July 2010.
“We hope that the CBT programme will result in a significant
reduction in the number of children at risk of becoming seriously
depressed,” said Professor Stallard, who is also a chartered clinical
psychologist with the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Care
“Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works by improving the individual’s
ability to deal with negative situations and to acknowledge and focus
on more positive skills and outcomes."
Professor Stallard’s book on CBT, Think Good, Feel Good, was highly commended by the British Medical Association and has been translated into 13 languages.
He has won five national awards for a school-based CBT programme
(FRIENDS) to prevent children from developing mental health problems.
Professor Stallard will be presenting his latest findings at the
School for Health’s Research Matters conference on Friday 19 September.
The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading
universities, with an international reputation for quality research and
For further information,
University Press Office
44 (0)1225 38 6883
44 (0)7966 341 357