Enabling children and young people with epilepsy and related conditions to thrive and reach their ambitions
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Mental health disorders in young people with epilepsy

Identifying and treating mental health disorders in children and young people with epilepsy: a screening and brief intervention study.

Project aim

Establish the feasibility of routine screening and brief telephone intervention for mental health disorders in paediatric neurology clinics so children and young people with difficulties are able to access the support they need.

What this means

Children and young people with epilepsy are more likely to have emotional or behavioural difficulties than children and young people who do not have a chronic illness. There are lots of studies showing that there are effective treatments for emotional and behavioural difficulties in children, but don't know whether they also work in children who have epilepsy. We want to know if an online questionnaire and a talking treatment delivered over the telephone can help us to pick up and treat emotional and behavioural difficulties in children and young people with epilepsy.


Our pilot study showed that the method of identification was feasible in terms of numbers completing the online questionnaire (n=406, of which n=232 had significant symptoms of a mental health disorder). Results are promising from the 40 families who took part in the brief intervention, with progress made towards families chosen goals and high levels of satisfaction reported by families and clinicians. Chief Investigators Roz Shafran and Helen Cross were very pleased to have received a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to continue this research over the next five years, which means we will be able to provide the treatment to children and young people from other hospitals across the country to find out if it works in these different settings. The first stage of this larger project will be to hold focus groups with families and clinicians so they can help us to develop the intervention and the research plan.


Sophie Bennett, Isobel Heyman, Sophia Varadkar, Anna Coughtrey, Marta Buszewicz, Sarah Byford, Caroline Dore, Peter Fonagy, Rona Moss-Morris, Terence Stephenson, Susan Tebbs, Erin Walker, Roz Shafran, Helen Cross.

Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE).
Registered Charity number 311877 (England and Wales)

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