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School-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Programs

A close-up view of a group discussion.The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends school-based cognitive behavioral therapy programs to prevent or reduce depression and anxiety symptoms among school-aged children and adolescents. Universal programs are delivered to all children and adolescents, and targeted programs are directed toward children and adolescents who are assessed to be at increased risk for depression or anxiety.

A team of specialists in systematic review methods and in mental health research, practice, and policy assessed evidence from 81 studies identified in the following published review:

Werner-Seidler A, Perry Y, Calear AI, Newby JM, Christensen H. School-based depression and anxiety prevention programs for young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 2017;51;30-47.

What are cognitive behavioral therapy programs to prevent depression and anxiety symptoms?

School-based cognitive behavioral therapy programs help students develop strategies to solve problems, regulate emotions, and establish helpful patterns of thought and behavior. Trained school staff (e.g., school mental health professionals, trained teachers, nurses) or external mental health professionals (e.g., non-school psychologists, social workers) use therapeutic approaches outlined in an intervention protocol to engage with students in individual or group settings.

Why is this important?

Depression and anxiety are common among children and adolescents, and they can persist into adulthood, increasing risks for suicide, risk-taking behavior (e.g., substance abuse, sexual experimentation), teenage pregnancy, conduct disorder, delinquency, and poor academic outcomes.1-3 Among children aged 3-17 years, 3.2% have diagnosed depression and 7.1% have diagnosed anxiety.4

For More Information

References

1 Werner-Seidler A, Perry Y, Calear AI, Newby JM, Christensen H. School-based depression and anxiety prevention programs for young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 2017;51;30-47.
2 Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Facts and Statistics. Silver Spring (MD): 2018. [Cited 10/1/18]. Available from URL: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.
3 Weller EB, Weller RA. Depression in adolescents growing pains or true morbidity? [Review] [20 refs]. Journal of Affective Disorders 2000;61:Suppl-13.
4 Ghandour RM, Sherman LJ, Vladutiu CJ, Ali MM, Lynch SE, Bitsko RH, Blumberg SJ. Prevalence and treatment of depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in U.S. children. Journal of Pediatrics 2019; 206:256–67.