DC Labs is collaborating with the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust to deliver a large research programme that aims to help young people aged 12-18 with mild to moderate depression. 

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research for 5-years, the programme is called ComBAT, which stands for Community based Behavioural Activation Training for Depression in Adolescents.

Many young people who experience depression do not have timely access to effective psychological interventions, because of the high threshold for entry to specialist mental health services. The majority of professionals who work with adolescents in the community (e.g. schools, youth charities) do not have the specialist skills to deliver therapy.

ComBAT aims to develop and evaluate Behavioural Activation (BA), a brief psychological therapy, so that it can be delivered by a wide group of professionals in the community. BA is based on one key principle: that enjoyable, purposeful and meaningful activities can lift our mood, energise us and stimulate our interest and pleasure in day-to-day life. BA involves identifying, scheduling, completing and monitoring day-to-day activities that are emotionally rewarding and connect them with things and people that matter.

DC Labs will develop a BA digital interface that will replicate the paper-based version of a clinical manual, providing professionals, young people and their parents/ guardians/carers with an online tool to support the delivery of BA. Although BA is an established intervention in the NHS, there are no existing digital tools to engage young people with depression, and to guide professionals and parents who support them, in using BA.

Organisations and professionals in the UK who work with young people are eligible to join the ComBAT research programme even if they do not currently offer clinical interventions to young people with depression. Through NHS partners, the ComBAT team will provide free and expert training to professionals delivering the BA intervention alongside ongoing support and supervision.

The ComBAT research programme has the potential to make an impact on the increasing numbers of young people with depression and the limitations of clinical services to deal with this. The beneficiaries of the research will be the young people whose symptoms and quality of life will improve and the parents/carers and staff within schools and community organisations who will be able to support the young people in tackling depression.

If you would like to find out more about the research, or enquire about taking part, please email or text/phone 07385 430934.