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There is growing evidence of a beneficial effect of social group processes on well-being and mental health.
To investigate the role of group membership continuity in reducing mental ill-health among young people who were already vulnerable pre-pandemic, and to understand the social and psychological mechanisms of the benefits of group memberships for vulnerable young people.
This study takes a cross-sectional design, using survey data from a sample of 105 young people aged 16–35 years, collected approximately 1 year after the global COVID-19 outbreak (January to July 2021). Correlational and path analyses were used to test the associations between group membership continuity and mental health problems (depression, anxiety, psychotic-like experiences) and the mediation of these associations by hope and social connectedness (in-person and online). To correct for multiple testing, the Benjamini–Hochberg procedure was implemented for all analyses. Indirect effects were assessed with coverage of 99% confidence intervals.
Multiple prior group memberships were associated with preservation of group memberships during the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person social connectedness, online social connectedness and hope mediated the relationship between group membership continuity and mental health problem symptoms.
The results suggest that clinical and public health practice should support vulnerable young people to foster and maintain their social group memberships, hopefulness and perceived sense of social connectedness as means of helping to prevent exacerbation of symptoms and promote recovery of mental health problems, particularly during significant life events.
Many individuals with first-episode psychosis experience severe and persistent social disability despite receiving specialist early intervention. The SUPEREDEN3 trial assessed whether augmenting early intervention in psychosis services with Social Recovery Therapy (SRT) would lead to better social recovery.
A qualitative process evaluation was conducted to explore implementation and mechanisms of SRT impact from the perspective of SUPEREDEN3 participants.
A subsample of SUPEREDEN3 trial participants (n = 19) took part in semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Trial participants were early intervention service users aged 16–35 years with severe and persistent social disability. Both SRT plus early intervention and early intervention alone arm participants were interviewed to facilitate better understanding of the context in which SRT was delivered and to aid identification of mechanisms specific to SRT.
The six themes identified were used to generate an explanatory model of SRT’s enhancement of social recovery. Participant experiences highlight the importance of the therapist cultivating increased self-understanding and assertively encouraging clients to face feared situations in a way that is perceived as supportive, while managing ongoing symptoms. The sense of achievement generated by reaching targets linked to personally meaningful goals promotes increased self-agency, and generates hope and optimism.
The findings suggest potentially important processes through which social recovery was enhanced in this trial, which will be valuable in ensuring the benefits observed can be replicated. Participant accounts provide hope that, with the right support, even clients who have persistent symptoms and the most severe disability can make a good social recovery.
Levels of mental health stigma experienced can vary as a function of the presenting mental health problem (e.g. diagnosis and symptoms). However, these studies are limited because they exclusively use pairwise comparisons. A more comprehensive examination of diagnosis-specific stigma is needed.
The aim of our study was to determine how levels of mental health stigma vary in relation to a number of psychiatric diagnoses, and identify what attributions predict levels of diagnosis-specific stigma.
We conducted an online survey with members of the public. Participants were assessed in terms of how much stigma they had, and their attributions toward, nine different case vignettes, each describing a different mental health diagnosis.
We recruited 665 participants. After controlling for social desirability bias and key demographic variables, we found that mental health stigma varied in relation to psychiatric diagnosis. Schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder were the most stigmatised diagnoses, and depression, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive–compulsive disorder were the least stigmatised diagnoses. No single attribution predicted stigma across diagnoses, but fear was the most consistent predictor.
Assessing mental health stigma as a single concept masks significant between-diagnosis variability. Anti-stigma campaigns are likely to be most successful if they target fearful attributions.
Suicidal ideation is an increasingly common presentation to the paediatric emergency department. The presence of suicidal ideation is linked to acute psychiatric hospital admission and increased risk of suicide. The paediatric emergency department plays a critical role in reducing risk of suicide, strengthening protective factors and encouraging patient engagement with ongoing care.
This rapid review aims to synthesise evidence on interventions that can be implemented in the paediatric emergency department for children and adolescents presenting with suicidal ideation.
Six electronic databases were searched for studies published since January 2010: PubMed, Web of Science, Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Cochrane. Outcomes of interest included suicidal ideation, engagement with out-patient services, incidence of depressive symptoms, hopelessness, family empowerment, hospital admission and feasibility of interventions. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used to evaluate the quality of studies.
Six studies of paediatric emergency department-initiated family-based (n = 4) and motivational interviewing interventions (n = 2) were narratively reviewed. The studies were mainly small and of varying quality. The evidence synthesis suggests that both types of intervention, when initiated by the paediatric emergency department, reduce suicidal ideation and improve patient engagement with out-patient services. Family-based interventions also showed a reduction in suicidality and improvement in family empowerment, hopelessness and depressive symptoms.
Paediatric emergency department-initiated interventions are crucial to reduce suicidal ideation and risk of suicide, and to enhance ongoing engagement with out-patient services. Further research is needed; however, family-based and motivational interviewing interventions could be feasibly and effectively implemented in the paediatric emergency department setting.
Young people with social disability and severe and complex mental health problems have poor outcomes, frequently struggling with treatment access and engagement. Outcomes may be improved by enhancing care and providing targeted psychological or psychosocial intervention.
We aimed to test the hypothesis that adding social recovery therapy (SRT) to enhanced standard care (ESC) would improve social recovery compared with ESC alone.
A pragmatic, assessor-masked, randomised controlled trial (PRODIGY: ISRCTN47998710) was conducted in three UK centres. Participants (n = 270) were aged 16–25 years, with persistent social disability, defined as under 30 hours of structured activity per week, social impairment for at least 6 months and severe and complex mental health problems. Participants were randomised to ESC alone or SRT plus ESC. SRT was an individual psychosocial therapy delivered over 9 months. The primary outcome was time spent in structured activity 15 months post-randomisation.
We randomised 132 participants to SRT plus ESC and 138 to ESC alone. Mean weekly hours in structured activity at 15 months increased by 11.1 h for SRT plus ESC (mean 22.4, s.d. = 21.4) and 16.6 h for ESC alone (mean 27.7, s.d. = 26.5). There was no significant difference between arms; treatment effect was −4.44 (95% CI −10.19 to 1.31, P = 0.13). Missingness was consistently greater in the ESC alone arm.
We found no evidence for the superiority of SRT as an adjunct to ESC. Participants in both arms made large, clinically significant improvements on all outcomes. When providing comprehensive evidence-based standard care, there are no additional gains by providing specialised SRT. Optimising standard care to ensure targeted delivery of existing interventions may further improve outcomes.
Emerging evidence demonstrates that postgraduate researchers have high rates of mental health problems. These problems are distressing, affect PhD studies, and have longer-term potential effects beyond the duration of the PhD. Yet large-scale studies of multiple risk and protective factors are rare.
We aimed to test the predictive validity of a comprehensive set of potential determinants of mental health symptoms (depression, anxiety and suicidality) among postgraduate researchers in the UK, including personal, study-related, and supervision characteristics.
We used regression models applied to data obtained from a national online survey of UK postgraduate researchers (Understanding DOCtoral researcher mental health; U-DOC, 2018–2019) to test predictors of mental health symptoms.
These models show that postgraduate researchers' mental health symptoms are predicted by demographic, occupational, psychological, social and supervisory relationship factors. Greater perfectionism, more impostor thoughts and reduced supervisory communion most strongly and consistently predict mental health symptoms.
Institutions training postgraduate researchers should focus interventions intended to improve depression, anxiety, suicidality, on self-beliefs and social connectedness. Moreover, supervisors should be provided with training that improves the degree of agency, and especially communion, in the relationships they form with postgraduate researchers.
Cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) is recommended for all patients with psychosis, but is offered to only a minority. This is attributable, in part, to the resource-intensive nature of CBT for psychosis. Responses have included the development of CBT for psychosis in brief and targeted formats, and its delivery by briefly trained therapists. This study explored a combination of these responses by investigating a brief, CBT-informed intervention targeted at distressing voices (the GiVE intervention) administered by a briefly trained workforce of assistant psychologists.
To explore the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the GiVE intervention when delivered by assistant psychologists to patients with psychosis.
This was a three-arm, feasibility, randomised controlled trial comparing the GiVE intervention, a supportive counselling intervention and treatment as usual, recruiting across two sites, with 1:1:1 allocation and blind post-treatment and follow-up assessments.
Feasibility outcomes were favourable with regard to the recruitment and retention of participants and the adherence of assistant psychologists to therapy and supervision protocols. For the candidate primary outcomes, estimated effects were in favour of GiVE compared with supportive counselling and treatment as usual at post-treatment. At follow-up, estimated effects were in favour of supportive counselling compared with GiVE and treatment as usual, and GiVE compared with treatment as usual.
A definitive trial of the GiVE intervention, delivered by assistant psychologists, is feasible. Adaptations to the GiVE intervention and the design of any future trials may be necessary.
In the context of increasing recognition of the role of nature in well-being, but limited evidence for specific patient groups, we describe a mixed-methods evaluation of a 10-week green care intervention (a woodland group) for 18- to 30-year-olds who had experienced a first episode of psychosis. Data were collected using the Questionnaire on the Process of Recovery (QPR), semi-structured service evaluation questionnaires, the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT), and focus group analysis.
All participants present at week 10 (n = 5) would recommend this group to others; 4/8 participants showed reliable improvement on QPR outcome measures. Thematic analysis identified themes of connection with nature and others, development of a sense of well-being and ‘peacefulness’ and new perspectives on psychotic experience.
This small retrospective evaluation describes patient-reported benefits, feasibility and acceptability of green care interventions within early intervention in psychosis services (EIS).
Recognition of the essential role of nature-based activities for general wellbeing is expanding. Previous evaluation of nature-based activities has shown that those with greater mental health needs may benefit proportionally more compared to the general population. Currently, there is limited evidence of the benefits of green care for those with severe and enduring mental illness, including psychosis.
We aim to establish benefits and difficulties encountered during a 10-session green care programme for 18-30 year olds who have experienced first episode of psychosis (FEP) using a mixed methods approach.
This was a service evaluation of the Woodland Group, run by Circle of Life Rediscovery (CLR) and commissioned by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in Autumn 2019 for 10 half-day sessions. All participants were aged 18–30 years, referred from Early Intervention in Psychosis service and had experienced FEP. Patients were supported by EIS staff with a ratio of at least 3:1. Sessions consisted of a welcome and agenda setting, ice-breaking activity, core nature-based activity (such as roasting chestnuts, maintaining the woodland area) and a ‘sense meditation’.
Quantitative data for this evaluation were collected through routinely collected 15-item Questionnaire on the Process of Recovery (QPR), and a semi-structured intervention experience questionnaire. Qualitative data were collected via a focus group within the final session of the Woodlands Group. Thematic analysis was performed by the three co-authors.
Session attendance ranged between 3-15. 4/8 patients showed reliable improvement on QPR outcome measures, 1 showed deterioration and 3 showed no change. Mean QPR scores showed modest increase from average 3.4 (week 1) to 3.8 (week 10). 100% of respondents would recommend this group to others. Thematic analysis identified themes of connection with nature and others, development of a sense of wellbeing and ‘peacefulness’ and new perspectives on psychotic experience.
This small, retrospective evaluation is the first to investigate green care interventions for young people experiencing FEP. Our results reflect the positive informal feedback from participants and supporting staff following attendance at the Woodlands Group. Limitations include small sample size, incomplete data, and reliance on patient-reported outcomes. These findings show promise for green care activities within EIS and represents a sustainable intervention in mental health care.
The SUPEREDEN3 study, a phase II randomized controlled trial, suggests that social recovery therapy (SRT) is useful in improving functional outcomes in people with first episode psychosis. SRT incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques with case management and employment support, and therefore has a different emphasis to traditional CBT for psychosis, requiring a new adherence tool.
This paper describes the SRT adherence checklist and content of the therapy delivered in the SUPEREDEN3 trial, outlining the frequency of SRT techniques and proportion of participants who received a full therapy dose. It was hypothesized that behavioural techniques would be used frequently, consistent with the behavioural emphasis of SRT.
Research therapists completed an adherence checklist after each therapy session, endorsing elements of SRT present. Data from 1236 therapy sessions were reviewed to determine whether participants received full, partial or no therapy dose.
Of the 75 participants randomized to receive SRT, 57.3% received a full dose, 24% a partial dose, and 18.7% received no dose. Behavioural techniques were endorsed in 50.5% of sessions, with cognitive techniques endorsed in 34.9% of sessions.
This report describes an adherence checklist which should be used when delivering SRT in both research and clinical practice. As hypothesized, behavioural techniques were a prominent feature of the SRT delivered in SUPEREDEN3, consistent with the behavioural emphasis of the approach. The use of this adherence tool would be considered essential for anyone delivering SRT looking to ensure adherence to the model.
Social disability in youth is an important precursor of long-term social and mental health problems. Social inclusion is a key policy driver and fits well within a new paradigm of health and well-being rather than illness-oriented services, yet little is known about social inclusion and its facilitators for “healthy” young people. We present a novel exploratory structural analysis of social inclusion using measures from 387 14- to 36-year-olds. Our model represents social inclusion as comprising social activity and community belonging, with both domains predicted by hopeful and dysfunctional self-beliefs but hopefulness more uniquely predicting social inclusion in adolescence. We conclude that social inclusion can be modeled for meaningful comparison across spectra of development, mental health, and functioning.
Background: Hearing voices can be a common and distressing experience. Psychological treatment in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBTp) is effective, but is rarely available to patients. The barriers to increasing access include a lack of time for clinicians to deliver therapy. Emerging evidence suggests that CBTp delivered in brief forms can be effective and offer one solution to increasing access. Aims: We adapted an existing form of CBTp, coping strategy enhancement (CSE), to focus specifically on distressing voices in a brief format. This intervention was evaluated within an uncontrolled study conducted in routine clinical practice. Method: This was a service evaluation comparing pre–post outcomes in patients who had completed CSE over four sessions within a specialist out-patient service within NHS Mental Health Services. The primary outcome was the distress scale of the Psychotic Symptoms Rating Scale – Auditory Hallucinations (PSYRATS-AH). Results: Data were available from 101 patients who had completed therapy. A reduction approaching clinical importance was found on the PSYRATS distress scale post-therapy when compared with the baseline. Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that CSE, as a focused and brief form of CBTp, can be effective in the treatment of distressing voices within routine clinical practice. Within the context of the limitations of this study, brief CSE may best be viewed as the beginning of a therapeutic conversation and a low-intensity intervention in a stepped approach to the treatment of distressing voices.
Background: Although recommended in national treatment guidelines, there is much that is still unknown about CBT for psychosis (CBTp) in terms of the process and experience of the therapy. One way to investigate these gaps in knowledge is to explore service users' experiences through qualitative research. Aims: To consolidate existing qualitative explorations of CBTp from a service user perspective. Method: Qualitative synthesis and comparison with previous research findings. Results: Two analytical themes were created from initial descriptive themes common to multiple studies: “The ingredients in the process of therapy” and “What is the process of therapy?” Conclusions: Qualitative synthesis is a useful method for generating new insights from multiple qualitative studies. Service user perspectives on CBTp corroborate existing research and may also offer more novel findings regarding the ingredients and process of therapy. However, qualitative studies are limited in number and do not always maximize the prominence of service user experience.
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