One-day cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) self-confidence therapy sessions may be a cost-effective way to reduce depression, scientists say.
People attending the self-confidence workshops were significantly less depressed, had lower anxiety levels and increased self-esteem, according to a new study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London trialled the effectiveness of one-day sessions by running weekend workshops in community settings such as leisure centres and libraries across eight London boroughs.
Members of the public may be referred by their GPs or they could self-refer in response to flyers advertising the workshops, which were titled ‘How to improve your self-confidence’.
At an introductory talk participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to screen for depression, which resulted in 459 people out of a total of 1,042 who enquired about the workshops being invited to take part.
Of the final 459 participants, 228 took part in the one-day workshop run by psychologists, while the remaining 231 were assigned to a waiting list and acted as a control group.
The significantly lower depression scores, lower anxiety levels and higher self-esteem of the participants compared with the control group were identified at a 12-week follow-up.
Lead researcher Dr June Brown, senior lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the IoP at King’s College London, said the trial shows the workshops are “clinically effective” in these areas.
It was also discovered that women tended to show greater benefits than men from the sessions.
“What was also very important was that these workshops were designed to be very accessible,” said Dr Brown.
“Many people with depression are reluctant to seek help from their GP, especially those from black and minority communities. But we found that advertising our workshops, using a ‘self-confidence’ label, was an effective way of reaching out to members of the public with depression who had not previously sought help.”
One in five adults in the UK are affected by depression but more than half (54%) of people experiencing depressive episodes do not contact their GP.
CBT is an effective treatment for depression but waiting times remain long despite recent funding increases for psychological services.
Traditional group CBT involves small groups of eight to 10 people meeting for between 10 and 12 two-hour sessions, but providing one-day workshops based on CBT principles in convenient locations offers a lower-cost alternative that is able to reach up to 30 people per workshop.
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