Project MH39

ATTEND: (Adolescents and carers using mindfulness Therapy To END depression)

Can a novel intervention, Mindfulness for Adolescents and Carers (MAC), improve recovery among young people (15-18 years-old) with depression who have failed to completely respond to first line treatment or who have relapsed?


In the UK about 140,000 15–19-year-olds experience depression:

- An estimated 35,000 young people access NHS treatment for depression, of which,

- about 14,000 do not respond.

- A further 8,000 are likely to relapse after initial successful treatment.

These young people have a high risk of substance-misuse, self-harm, and school or relationship failure, as well as poor adult mental and physical health. 

Parenting a teenager with depression is stressful and can damage family relationships. Teenagers whose parents have depression are more likely to develop mental health problems in adulthood.

We have developed a new treatment called Mindfulness for Adolescents and Carers (MAC). 

MAC teaches skills to help teenagers recover from depression and support parents and carers to cope better.

Project Aims

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for teenagers is relatively untested. We want to see if MAC supports recovery and prevents relapse amongst 15-18-year-olds who risk developing recurrent depression as adults.

Project Activities

Our research has five parts that will:

  • Finalize our therapist-training programme.
  • Co-produce an App to encourage and measure mindfulness practice.
  • Recruit 480 teenagers and their parents. Half will access MAC and half will access the standard NHS treatment currently available. This will allow us to compare the differences between the two treatment results and their costs to see whether MAC works and is value for money.
  • Find out how MAC works and who benefits the most by exploring changes in how teenagers and parents feel, think, and relate to each other.
  • Understand how best we can get MAC into mental health services across the NHS.

Anticipated Outputs

Impacts include knowledge generation and tangible outputs (eg App, implementation toolkit). We will mobilize knowledge with our lived experience team via social media, podcasts, and blogs modified to suit the needs and interests of different stakeholders including service-users and practitioners.

Papers and Resources

Plain English summary

Who is involved?

  • Co-Principle Investigator: Professor Tamsin Ford, University of Cambridge
  •  Co-Principle Investigator: Patrick Smith, King's College London
  • Steve Morris, University of Cambridge
  • Ms Gemma Giove-Hunt, University of Cambridge
  • Kim Goldsmith, King's College London
  • Jessica Richardson, King's College London
  • Kat Nellist, Experts by Experience
  • Leon Farmer, Experts by Experience
  • Rachel Hayes, University of Exeter
  • Vashti Berry, University of Exeter
  • Kristian Hudson, Improvement Academy NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber
  • Thorsten Barnhofer, University of Surrey
  • Willem Kuyken, University of Oxford
  • Clara Strauss, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tim Sweeny, Nottingham Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


    Other ARCs involved in this project:

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 


Professor Tamsin Ford,