CBT lessons in primary school reduce anxiety in children

July 16, 2014
CBT lessons in primary school reduce anxiety in children
New research published in the Lancet highlights how CBT lessons in primary schools can reduce anxiety in children and young people.

Introducing lessons in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in primary schools would significantly reduce anxiety levels among 9 – 10 year olds, according to new research published today (Wednesday) in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The study, from researchers at the Universities of Bath, Cardiff, Oxford and Exeter, suggests that anxiety prevention programmes delivered in schools for Year 5 pupils significantly reduce . Moreover, it highlights that such lessons benefit all , regardless of their initial anxiety level.

Lessons in CBT involve teaching children how to identify and manage their emotions and to replace their anxious thoughts with more helpful ways of thinking. It also involves developing their problem-solving skills to better confront and cope with anxiety provoking situations and events.

Anxiety in children is very common and is something that impairs their day-to-day lives and increases the risk of severe in adulthood. The paper mentions previous research suggesting that by the age of 16, 10 per cent of children are affected by an anxiety disorder.

Whilst effective psychological interventions are available comparatively few children with are identified and referred for treatment. This poor reach and availability has led to increased interest from education leaders and policy-makers to establish more proactive, preventive approaches.

Lead author, Professor Paul Stallard from our Department for Health, explains: "Schools provide a convenient location to deliver prevention programmes for children.

"Whilst there are a number of school based programmes few have been scientifically evaluated to determine what effect they have on children's emotional health. The results of our study are very encouraging and show that FRIENDS, a CBT programme, teaches children skills to effectively manage their anxiety."

Through their project, 'Preventing Anxiety in Children through Education in Schools' (PACES), the researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of CBT lessons for 9-10 year old children. The researchers enrolled 1362 children from 40 state-funded junior schools in South West England and followed them for one year.

School year groups were assigned to receive either classroom based CBT lessons led by teachers, CBT lessons led by health facilitators, or standard school provision.

The nine, one hour CBT lessons were provided to whole classes of children as part of the school curriculum.

Professor Harry Daniels, from the Department of Education at the University of Oxford added: "These are important findings. The intervention offers an affordable and practical response to the challenges of promoting emotional health in schools. The need to improve the mental health of children is being increasingly recognised as a global priority given the associated health risks, and the economic and social costs, if such anxieties are not dealt with early on."

In the 40 participating schools, the researchers found that training teachers and school staff to deliver CBT lessons was not as effective as delivery by health professionals from outside of the school. The team are now assessing whether these reductions in are maintained after children transfer to secondary .

Explore further: Strategic program helps families counter depression and anxiety

More information: "Classroom-based cognitive behaviour therapy (FRIENDS): a cluster randomised controlled trial to Prevent Anxiety in Children through Education in Schools (PACES)." Prof Paul Stallard PhD,Elena Skryabina PhD,Gordon Taylor PhD,Rhiannon Phillips PhD,Prof Harry Daniels PhD,Prof Rob Anderson PhD,Neil Simpson MBBS. The Lancet Psychiatry - 16 July 2014. DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70244-5

Related Stories

Strategic program helps families counter depression and anxiety

July 14, 2014
A new program aimed at reducing the impact of parents' anxiety or depression on the family is being trialled in Australia.

Parent-led anxiety treatment could improve children's lives, study finds

August 22, 2013
A new study by the University of Reading has found that delivering Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) via parents could be an efficient and effective way of treating childhood anxiety disorders.

Study finds family-based exposure therapy effective treatment for young children with OCD

May 5, 2014
A new study from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center has found that family-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is beneficial to young children between the ages of five and eight with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ...

Effective treatment for youth anxiety disorders has lasting benefit

February 27, 2014
A study published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that the majority of youth with moderate to severe anxiety disorders responded well to acute treatment ...

Classroom therapy may not be answer to treating depression in teenagers, study finds

November 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University's Department for Health have found that introducing mood therapy into the classroom may not be the answer to treating depression in teenagers.

Cognitive behavior therapy more effective than standard care for reducing health anxiety

October 17, 2013
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is substantially more effective than standard care at reducing symptoms of health anxiety in medical patients, and can be delivered by non-specialist staff with minimal training at little ...

Recommended for you

To pick a great gift, it's better to give AND receive

July 28, 2017
If it's the thought that makes a gift count, here's a thought that can make your gift count extra: Get a little something for yourself.

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Ketamine for depression encouraging, but questions remain around long-term use

July 27, 2017
A world-first systematic review into the safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression, published in the prestigious Lancet Psychiatry, shows the risks of long-term ketamine treatment remain unclear.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress

July 27, 2017
Immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children and who meet the requirements of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers, are at risk for mental health ...

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.