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NICE: Treat mild depression in children and young people with digital CBT

Children and young people with mild depression should be treated with digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), NICE has said.

The draft guidance, released today, said patients aged between five and 18 should be given online CBT as a first-line treatment, something already recommended for adults.

The draft guidelines said: ‘Offer all children and young people with continuing mild depression, and without significant comorbid problems or active suicidal ideas or plans, a choice of the following psychological therapies for a limited period (approximately two to three months): digital CBT, or group therapy (CBT or interpersonal psychotherapy, or mindfulness).’

The purpose is to give patients faster access to help, as digital CBT is available on a mobile phone or laptop, NICE said.

NHS England’s national mental health director Claire Murdoch said: ‘Given how quickly technology is constantly evolving and the fact that young people are usually at the forefront of this change, updating this draft guidance is another step forward.

‘Digital and online interventions can play an effective and important role in treatment, particularly when backed up by face to face support.’

The new recommendations from this fast-tracked update were sparked by a recent trial looking at psychological therapies in young people.

The draft guidance is now in consultation, with the final document set to be published in April.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Maverick

    Splendid work Claire Murdoch. That'll fix it. Job done.

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  • National Hopeless Service

    What a dreadful world we are creating where interacting with people is deemed a last resort.

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  • Fantastic. On the one hand you can view Facebook and Instagram and have all the self-worth knocked out of you as your useless life is shown to be inferior to everyone elses, and then you can get some treatment through the same device. Love it.

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  • Reason most of them are emotionally brittle is exposure to social media, seems sensible to advocate more screen time

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  • David Banner

    And when Mum drags their monosyllabic miserable son back in to surgery to tell you the online CBT didn’t work (hint- it never works), what is Plan B? Good luck getting CAMHS to see them.

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  • what was the equality and diversity assessment on this?

    Did they include anyone without digital access? or with language needs? or possibly some of the young people with learning difficulties? what about those with physical health issues? maybe some BAME children? the occasional LGBT person?

    what? none of the groups most at risk?
    I'll definitely be following this advice then

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