Mental Health Intervention in Childhood Epilepsy (MICE)

Evidence for a new psychological treatment for children with epilepsy has been published in The Lancet.

Around half of young people with epilepsy also have mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and behaviour difficulties. These difficulties can have a very significant negative impact on the quality of life of the young people with epilepsy and their families and often these difficulties have a greater impact than the epileptic seizures themselves. In fact, research by Young Epilepsy shows that 77% of young people say living with epilepsy has had a significant impact on their mental wellbeing, including their thoughts, feelings and how they’re able to cope with everyday life. Despite this, mental health problems are often treated separately with very few NHS Trusts (16%) facilitating mental health provision within epilepsy clinics and over to a third of trusts (36%) having no agreed referral pathway for children with mental health conditions. 

Led by UCL, the MICE team worked with health professionals, parents, children and young people to modify existing National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended treatments for common mental health disorders so that the treatment met the special mental health needs of young people with epilepsy. The MICE project recruited a total of 334 participants, 166 of whom received the MICE intervention and 168 received the usual treatment for mental health problems in epilepsy. The treatment consisted of a series of session delivered either to the young person directly or via their caregiver. Crucially these could be delivered remotely and by those already working in epilepsy clinics, meaning it could be delivered by those who were not mental health specialists. 

The results of the trial have been very promising, with young people receiving the MICE treatment having significantly fewer mental health difficulties than those who received treatment as usual at both 6 and 12 months. Importantly, these effects were consistent in individuals with autism, intellectual disability, and a range of mental health conditions. All of this provides crucial evidence of a far-reaching and effective intervention that addresses the common mental health challenges faced by children and young people with epilepsy.

You can access the full article here or read more about any of the research from within our research partnership in our latest Research and Impact Report.