School-based early interventions

Contemporary childhood

Schools are a key part of the mental health infrastructure for children and young people. Catching problems early can help to avoid a lifetime of mental health issues and school offers an ideal opportunity to educate children about mental health and teach them how to look after themselves. Programmes CUES-Ed and DISCOVER have been designed by experts at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Our clinical work
CUES-Ed is a successful and innovative early intervention programme rooted in evidence based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Working with classes of primary-aged children from 7 to 10 years, CUES-Ed teaches children effective skills and techniques to look after themselves and enhance resilience. CUES-Ed was designed after young people said they would have benefitted from the skills to cope with mental health problems from an earlier age.

DISCOVER is an innovative, evidence-based mental health programme, based on CBT principles for older teenagers at school. Through individual and group sessions, DISCOVER enables young people to learn techniques to address their problems. The team has also created a DISCOVER app for participants to remain motivated to make changes.

Our partnership work
The CUES-Ed team is committed to working in partnership with researchers and finding effective and sustainable ways to intervene early to improve children’s mental health.

The DISCOVER programme evolved, with the help of teenage advisers, from an existing model for adults created by Dr June Brown, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, King’s College London. Dr Brown is now leading a DISCOVER trial in 60 schools across England.

Our future vision for children and young people
CUES-Ed’s ambition is to build a sustainable model which will offer every Year 4 child in the UK access to the programme. To do this we need to digitalise the programme to provide an accessible, evidence-based intervention on a larger scale, which we know is achieveable. This will ensure CUES-Ed has potential for universal reach.

DISCOVER is aiming to expand its reach beyond London and the south east. Additional funding would enable the rollout of a framework to support new DISCOVER teams, create a bespoke DISCOVER training package for teachers to sustain their students’ progress and create a new version of DISCOVER for care leavers.

Sclare, Irene, Daniel Michelson, Liz Malpass, Fay Coster, and June SL Brown. 2014. ‘Innovations in practice: DISCOVER CBT workshops for 16-18 year olds: development of an open-access intervention for anxiety and depression in inner-city youth’, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20: 102-06.

Brown, J.S.L., Emily    Blackshaw, Daniel Stahl, Lisa    Fennelly, Lynn    McKeague, Irene  Sclare, and Daniel Michelson. 2019s. ‘School-based early intervention for anxiety and depression in older adolescents: A feasibility randomised controlled trial of a self-referral stress management workshop programme (“DISCOVER”)’, Journal of Adolescence, 71, 150-161

Redfern, Jolley, Bracegirdle, Browning, & Plant (2019). CUES-Ed: An in-service evaluation of a new universal cognitive behavioural early mental health intervention programme for primary school children. Child & Adolescent Mental Health.

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