A collaborative research team including the University of Bedfordshire, led by the University of Hertfordshire along with the University of East Anglia, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit, local mental trusts and sports partnerships have won a £2.27m contract from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to investigate if exercise is a beneficial treatment for mild to moderate depression in young people aged 13-17.
The multi-disciplinary research trial will include health, psychology, and exercise researchers and practitioners from the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the School of Health and Social Work (University of Hertfordshire), the Research Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change (University of Bedfordshire), Norwich Clinical Trials Unit and the University of East Anglia.,
The READY Trial (Randomised trial of Energetic Activity for Depression in Young people) will commence with an initial research study with young people in the East of England region, which will be followed by a nationwide trial involving more than 1,000 young people starting in 2021.
The study will compare the benefit of exercise for young people living with depression participating in either a high intensity, or low intensity group exercise sessions, with spending time non-active with a group of their peers.
Research co-applicant from the University of Bedfordshire, Dr Angel Chater, Reader in Health Psychology and Behaviour Change and Lead for the Research Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to enhance our understanding of whether exercise can benefit young people’s mental health.
"We will look not only at the benefits of exercise, but what motivates young people to engage in such programmes, what barriers they need help in overcoming and how we can best support adherence to, enjoyment of and social support through exercise”
Co-lead researcher Dr Daksha Trivedi, Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, added: “We will be working closely with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and GPs to sensitively work with families and health providers to research and potentially find effective use of behavioural medicine and exercise to treat depression”
Co-lead researcher Dr David Wellsted, Centre for Health Services and Clinical Research, University of Hertfordshire, commented: “There is a gap in support and care for this particular age group.
"In 2018 in Hertfordshire alone over 1000 young people were referred for mental health support. Our study will explore if participation in group exercise is an effective intervention for depression, which could help communities provide support for young people experiencing these issues, as well as relieving pressure on NHS services.”
Principal Research Clinical Psychologist for the Children, Family and Young People’s Mental Health Service, Dr Tim Clarke from Norfolk commented: “This is a great opportunity to explore an intervention that expands traditional offers of support for young people with low mood and could potentially improve provision and increase access to evidence based interventions.
"The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are excited to be working with the University of Hertfordshire on this trial and working with local young people to test this intervention”.
University of Hertfordshire
Dr Daksha Trivedi, & Dr David Wellsted, Joint leads
Dr Lindsay Bottoms, exercise physiologist
Dr Lee David, academic GP & visiting fellow
Dr Julia Jones, Patient & Public Involvement
Dr Silvana Mengoni, Process evaluation
Dr Neil Howlett, exercise, behaviour change, psychology
Dr Shivani Sharma, Health inequalities
Ms Solange Wyatt, Clinical Trials Support Network
Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Mirza Kah, Consultant Psychiatrist
University of Bedfordshire
Dr Angel Chater, Health Psychologist; Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change
Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust:
Dr Jonathan Wilson, Consultant psychiatrist
Dr Tim Clarke, Research clinical psychologist
University of East Anglia
Dr Allan Clark, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit
Prof Andrew Jones, Public health, exercise
Dr Jamie Murdoch, Process evaluation
Dr Erika Sims, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit
Prof Ann Marie Swart, Director Norwich Clinical Trials Unit
David Turner, Health Economics
Community sports providers
Andrew Garlick, Watford Football Club’s Community Sports and Education Trust
Stevie Bramble, Norwich City Community Sports Foundation
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