Pilot Study Indicates Mind-Body Skills Groups Could Be an Effective Treatment Option for Depressed Adolescents

Pilot Study Indicates Mind-Body Skills Groups Could Be an Effective Treatment Option for Depressed Adolescents

Pilot Study Indicates Mind-Body Skills Groups Could Be an Effective Treatment Option for Depressed Adolescents

NEW YORK, Oct. 12, 2020 – With nearly 14% of adolescents aged 12-17 affected by depression that can impact social functioning and academic performance and increase other mental health diagnoses, it’s imperative to look for new, effective ways to help treat adolescents in primary care practice. A pilot study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care discusses a potential new method of treatment.

Given that most of the adolescents receive treatment for depression by a primary care provider rather than by an outpatient mental health specialist, providing behavioral health services in primary care settings can eliminate common barriers to service utilization such as additional costs, transportation issues and perceived stigma related to mental health treatment. It also allows for improved communication between medical and behavioral health staff regarding co-occurring health problems and medication management.

The study examined preliminary effectiveness and acceptability of a mind-body skills groups (MBSGs) treatment for depressed adolescents in primary care. Mind-body skills is an innovative approach of techniques to bring control over mind, body, brain and behavior where patients can experiment to find the best combination for them. Forty-three adolescents participated in a single-arm clinical trial during a 10-week MBSG program implemented in primary care. Participants completed self-report measures at baseline, postintervention and three months following the MBSGs.

“The benefit of programs like MBSGs is teens can tailor the intervention to their own interests and needs. By practicing several mindfulness skills, teens can run with the intervention skill that they enjoy the most,” said Matt Aalsma, PhD, lead author of the study.

In addition to significantly improved depression scores, findings suggest the MBSGs also have a positive effect on self-efficacy, mindfulness rumination and suicidal ideation.

As prevalence of adolescent depression continues to rise and treatment services in primary care are underutilized, innovative therapies like MBSGs should be explored as potential integrated behavioral health services. The adolescents in the study were highly engaged in the intervention and viewed it as an acceptable treatment option in primary care.

Also contributing to the study were Lindsey D. Jones, BA, Julie K. Staples, PhD, Jennifer M. Garabrant, BSW, James S. Gordon, MD, Lynda Richtsmeier Cyr, PhD, LP, Eduardo Salgado, BS and Michelle P. Salyers, PhD.

The study was published in the September/October edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.

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The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation’s only professional association for pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,000 healthcare practitioners with 18 special interest groups and 53 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children’s health since 1973 and was the first APRN society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses and key partners to optimize child and family health. www.NAPNAP.org


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