Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA) in secondary schools: a feasibility study examining acceptability and practical considerations

Laura Pass, Michelle Sancho, Simon Brett, Mona Jones, Shirley Reynolds

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Aims: This paper reports on a feasibility study of delivering Brief Behavioural Activation in schools, focusing on acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation and integration. Rationale: Depression in adolescence is a common and serious mental health problem, with long-term negative impacts on social and academic functioning. In the UK, access to evidence based psychological treatments is limited and training and employing therapists to deliver these is expensive. Treatments are typically offered in specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHs) following a General Practitioner (GP) referral, yet few depressed young people seek help from their GP or other health professionals. In the UK there are current proposals to significantly increase the role of schools in providing access to mental health treatment for children and young people but currently there is little evidence that this is acceptable, feasible or effective. Behavioural Activation (BA) is an evidence-based treatment for depression in adults. BA has recently been adapted for young people (Brief Behavioural Activation; Brief BA, Pass Reynolds, 2014). The adaptation is developmentally sensitive, acceptable to parents and young people, links behaviours to values and is highly collaborative. Method: Brief BA was introduced into five schools where feasibility data were collected. Brief BA was delivered by four therapists from differing professional backgrounds and experience. Findings: Initial data suggest that Brief BA is feasible to deliver in schools. Brief BA was integrated successfully with some adaptation, demand was high, and the service was highly acceptable to students, parents and school staff. Conclusions: This study provides early evidence to support the use of Brief BA to treat adolescent depression in schools, with clear learning points for future feasibility evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational & Child Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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