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Dr Victoria Pile receives NIHR Advanced Fellowship to reduce depression in young people

The funding will test a new psychological treatment known as IMAGINE which enables young people to harness their imagination to reduce instances of depression

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Dr Victoria Pile, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, has been awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Advanced Fellowship of £1,115,344. The four-year award will allow her to test a new psychological treatment for depression in young people and understand how best to embed it in school settings.

The treatment, ‘Integrating Memories and Generating New Experiences’ (IMAGINE), enables young people to harness their imagination to reduce instances of depression. The imagery-based intervention was developed by Dr Pile with lived experience representatives and schools. It targets three factors known to drive depression: (A) frequent upsetting memories, (B) struggling to imagine anything positive in the future and (C) difficulty recalling memories in detail.

I am passionate about developing better psychological treatment options for young people. All too frequently, young people with depression are unable to access effective help when and where they need it. Together with young people with lived experience, parents and teachers, I have developed a novel school-based treatment for depression (IMAGINE). I am delighted to be given the opportunity to progress IMAGINE to the next stage in this NIHR Advanced Fellowship. – Dr Victoria Pile

Dr Pile has worked clinically in child and adolescent mental health services for the last eight years. Her programme of research focuses on developing novel accessible psychological interventions that are grounded in cognitive science. She has a particular interest in autobiographical memory processes and in emotional mental imagery.

Novel accessible interventions are needed as approximately three-quarters of young people with depression do not receive any mental health support. Intervening early may also reduce the long-lasting impact of depression as we know that when depression begins before adulthood, it is associated with ten times the economic costs and significantly worse outcomes. Dr Pile’s Fellowship will see her establish the efficacy of IMAGINE in a randomised controlled trial of 156 young people with depression. She will also identify barriers and facilitators of implementation.

Lived experience representatives will be play an active role throughout. Dr Pile will also work with an education think-tank (Centre for Education and Youth) to ensure effective engagement with schools/colleges.

The mission of the National Institute for Health Research is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. 

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Victoria Pile

Victoria Pile

NIHR Clinical Doctoral Fellow