Young people sought for clinical trial of mental health therapy app led by South London Trust
Leading NHS Trusts and universities are recruiting young people with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to take part in a clinical trial for a web-based therapy programme.
The treatment programme delivers the same cognitive therapy and support that has proven effective in face-to-face sessions with children and adolescents affected by PTSD.
Clinicians at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London have worked with partners from Oxford University, Cambridge University and the University of East Anglia to develop an app and website that provide personalised therapy and support to young people recovering from PTSD.
They are conducting the clinical trial at sites in south London, Cambridge, East Anglia and Oxford but the online delivery means participants can self-refer from any part of England.
The research team, which has received funding from the Medical Research Council, is seeking to recruit people aged between 12 and 17.
Although the Covid pandemic has seen a lot of therapy transferred online, the app and website were developed before the pandemic with the aim of treating many young people currently waiting for therapy.
Dr Patrick Smith, a consultant psychologist at SLaM’s child and adolescent Trauma Anxiety and Depression Clinic, was part of the collaborative that evaluated the initial face-to-face therapy and developed the app. He is leading the clinical trial with colleagues from the University of East Anglia and Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Dr Smith said: “The new app was designed with input from young people and includes all the components of the face-to-face therapy which evidence shows does help young patients recover. The app and website are personalised to respond to the particular needs and circumstances of the young person using them. A named therapist calls the young person at least once a week over the course of the 12 week programme to provide help and support.”
As well as having the potential to cut waiting times for therapy for PTSD, the online programme removes the need for visits to clinics at a set time — something that could appeal to young people and their parents.
Online therapy delivered through the app could ensure that more young people affected by PTSD receive treatment more quickly. Many of the clinicians and researchers were involved in developing and trialling cognitive therapy amongst adolescents affected by PTSD more than a decade ago and the treatment is now one of the nationally recommended treatment options for young people.
Dr Smith, who is also research director for the King’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, said: “It is important that PTSD symptoms are addressed during adolescence as this is a time when young people are developing skills essential to building and maintaining friendships and relationships; as well as facing exams that will have a significant impact on their opportunities and choices in life.”
To find out more about the trial please visit www.optyc.org