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DISCOVER Research Group

Adolescence is a key period for the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety, as half of lifetime mental health problems start by the age of fourteen. However, few evidence-based treatments exist, and current services are limited. Additionally, help-seeking is very low, particularly among black and minority-ethnic groups.

The prevention and treatment of mental health difficulties in adolescents therefore merits efforts to develop effective and accessible forms for intervention. The DISCOVER Research Group, led by Dr June Brown, therefore looks to explore the feasibility and acceptability of school-based, self-referral workshops for depression and anxiety in older adolescents.

 

History of DISCOVER workshop programme

June Brown developed the original day-long workshop programme to which participants could self-refer. Irene Sclare adapted the model for 16-18 year olds (called DISCOVER), in close consultation with 16-18 year olds. A pilot study (n=31) (funded by Guys and St Thomas’ Charity) (Sclare et al 2015) produced promising findings in terms of the DISCOVER workshop’s outcomes and accessibility. Significant improvements in depression and anxiety were observed when participants were assessed 12 weeks after a workshop, along with high levels of participant satisfaction. In terms of accessibility, there was good uptake from traditionally harder-to-reach groups such as black and minority ethnic students. The pilot also showed that teachers have an important role to play in encouraging young people’s workshop attendance.

A feasibility study (Brown et al 2019) showed that an RCT was feasible and that uptake and acceptability was satisfactory when workshops were run in secondary schools. 155 students were enrolled and 142 (91.6%) followed up after 3 months. Participants were predominantly female (81%) and the mean age was 17.3 years, with equal numbers enrolled from Year 12 and Year 13. Over half (55%) of students were from ethnic minority groups. Preliminary outcomes were encouraging, with reductions in depression and anxiety at 3 month follow-up.

Could the ‘History of the DISCOVER ‘How to Handle Stress’  Workshop be summarised and make up part of the ‘about’ section?

 

The DISCOVER workshop is based on an open-access service model originally developed by June Brown. This has been used successfully in community settings for adults with anxiety (Brown et al., 1999) and depression (Horrell et al., 2014). Key components are: (1) use of evidence-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) content; (2) an efficient one-day workshop format; (3) enhanced accessibility through self-referral. Taking the adult model as a starting point, an adapted version (DISCOVER) was produced for 16-18 year olds in a collaboration between clinical psychologists, young people, schools and youth organisations. The resulting DISCOVER ‘How to Handle Stress’ intervention is delivered on school premises by two clinical psychologists, using an interactive and engaging workshop format. The CBT content is specially adapted to address personal, relationship and academic stresses for older teenagers. Like the adult workshops, the intervention is delivered in a single day and can be accessed through self-referral. These arrangements are designed to be convenient for teenagers who are usually busy with school and other activities, while removing referral and waiting list barriers that commonly exist for specialist mental health services.

 

A pilot study (funded by Guys and St Thomas’ Charity) produced promising findings in terms of the DISCOVER workshop’s outcomes and accessibility. Significant improvements in depression and anxiety were observed when participants were assessed 12 weeks after a workshop, along with high levels of participant satisfaction. In terms of accessibility, there was good uptake from traditionally harder-to-reach groups such as black and minority ethnic students. The pilot also showed that teachers have an important role to play in encouraging young people’s workshop attendance.