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Professor Cathy Creswell of the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Oxford has been awarded a £2.5 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research to develop and evaluate procedures for identifying and treating anxiety disorders in primary school aged children.

The grant is hosted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the research will take place in schools across the UK.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem across the life course, and often have their onset in the primary school years. Our previous research has highlighted the fact that a tiny proportion of children with anxiety disorders access evidence based treatments. We are delighted to have the potential to support children, families and schools to access the help they need through this exciting project.- Professor Cathy Creswell, University of Oxford.


This project involves collaborators in:

  • Health Economics Research Centre, Oxford - Dr Mara Violato and Professor Alastair Gray
  • Universities of Reading, Exeter, Cambridge, Aston, Bath and Newcastle
  • Griffith University, Australia
  • School/educational representatives
  • Parent champions
  • Charity partners: The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust

The timing for this grant comes after a recent study led by Tessa Reardon of Cathy's group, that revealed that almost two-thirds (64.5%) of parents of children with an anxiety disorder reported seeking help from a professional; in 38.4% of cases parents reported that their child had received support from a professional to help manage and overcome their anxiety difficulties, and < 3% had received evidence-based treatment (CBT). These findings realise the important need for tools for parents and primary school staff to help identify children who may benefit from professional support to help them overcome their difficulties with anxiety. 


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