NICE recommends digital CBT for children with mild depression

Digital CBT for children with mild depression approved by NIC

NICE has recommended digital CBT for children and young people with mild depression as a first-line treatment.

Digital cognitive behavioural therapy is delivered on mobile phones, tablets or computers and can be made readily available, avoiding waiting lists and giving children and young people faster access to psychological help.

Digital CBT can be offered to children or young people, age five to eighteen, with continuing symptoms of mild depression who do not have other significant health conditions or suicidal thoughts.

Group CBT, group interpersonal psychotherapy and group mindfulness are also recommended as first-line treatments and the NICE committee highlighted the choice of treatment should be based on clinical need and patient and carer preferences wherever possible.

“The evidence showed digital CBT and group therapy were most effective at reducing depressive symptoms and we have recommend these as first-line options for children and young people with mild depression.”

The child or young person’s history and circumstances should be considered, for example, their family context and how they may function at school. It is also important to consider the level of development and maturity of the child or young person receiving treatment.
Digital CBT is already recommended for adults with mild to moderate depression.

Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said, “In this update to our depression in children guideline, we reviewed evidence for the most effective psychological interventions for children and young people with depression. The guideline update emphasises the importance of a child or young person’s personal choice when receiving treatment for depression.

“We want to ensure children are offered a range of therapies to suit their needs and individual preferences are placed at the heart of their care. The evidence showed digital CBT and group therapy were most effective at reducing depressive symptoms and we have recommend these as first-line options for children and young people with mild depression.”

in 2018 NHS digital published results from a survey on the the mental health of young people which found that one in eight of five to 19-year-olds had a mental disorder. 

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director 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, and the NHS Long Term Plan makes clear that the health service will continue to look to harness the benefits these advancements can bring.”

The draft recommendations from this fast-tracked update were sparked by a recent trial looking at psychological therapies in young people. The guidance is now out for consultation and the closing date for comments is 20 February 2019.