MRC Study on adolescent mental health interventions

We have recently been awarded a research grant by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for research into school based intervention for young people with mental health difficulties.

More than half of young people will, by the age of 21, have experienced mental health difficulties. This is of concern since mental health difficulties in adolescence typically persist into adulthood.  In the UK, the need for specialist mental health services far outweighs resources, and only a quarter of those referred to specialist services will be seen.  This project aligns with strategic shifts in national and international policy to promote mental health through public health initiatives and with recommendations for early intervention when mental health difficulties arise. In regional (Leeds) plans for implementing the NHS England and Department of Health's Future in Mind strategy, young people say that "We want it to be easy to find information about mental health and well-being so we can help ourselves" and "We want to be able to get help quickly and easily when we ask for it".

The project aims to examine the potential of information prescription to help young people with early signs of mental health difficulties get the information they need to help themselves. Information prescription involves the prescription of evidence-based, personalised information and guidance, at the right time, to help people understand their experiences, and equip them with knowledge, strategies and motivation to improve their well-being.  There is currently no information prescription intervention for young people's mental health that can be delivered in schools.  The primary aim of the intervention is to halt the progression of early mental health difficulties and to help the young person resume a productive and enjoyable life by developing their knowledge, understanding and resources to improve their mental health.

Study protocol

This is a development and feasibility study of a digital information prescription intervention suitable for delivery by trained staff in schools to 14-18 year olds who are experiencing mild-moderate (but non-clinical) mental health difficulties and who are in the help-seeking stage. Through co-design, we will work closely with young people with mental health difficulties, parents of young people with difficulties, school staff and mental health professionals to identify their support and information needs, before building an information repository relevant to the six most common mental health difficulties experienced by young people in local schools, and which would be suitable for early intervention via information prescription in school. We will convert this repository into a secure, interactive, multi-media platform (potentially for web and app based access), with monitoring potential, delivered via trained school staff.  A sister intervention for parents/carers will be developed as they currently report feeling insufficiently equipped to help.  

Summary of grant

Funded by: Medical Research Council (MRC)

Name: School based mental health intervention for young people: development and feasibility study of a digital information prescription intervention

In conjunction with: mHabitat, Common Room and Thomson Brand Partners

Led by: Dr Siobhan Hugh-Jones (School of Psychology