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Advancing cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders and PTSD (Wellcome Trust, PIs Ehlers and Clark) 

Anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common mental health problems that are disabling for the people who experience them and costly to both the NHS and the economy in general. Our research team has succeeded in developing effective psychological therapies for social anxiety disorder, PTSD and panic disorder that are recommended by NICE as first choice treatments for use in the NHS. However, limited availability of therapists means that many people who could benefit don’t receive the treatments and among those who do, a minority (20-30%) don’t recover. We propose to harness the power of the internet to address both problems. We are developing internet-delivered versions of the therapies that can be delivered anywhere and require much less therapist time. After rigorous evaluation of how well the treatments work, we will train clinicians in NHS services to deliver them. The large dataset that will be collected will allow precise investigation of who responds to the treatments and why they work. This information will be used to refine the treatments, with the effectiveness of the refinements being tested.


Preventing PTSD, depression and associated physical health problems in emergency workers (MQ, PI Dr Wild)

Emergency workers dedicate their lives to promoting public health and safety yet suffer higher rates of mental ill health compared to the general public.  They most commonly develop depression or a debilitating stress reaction called post-traumatic stress disorder. Because they develop these problems, they also suffer an increased risk for physical health problems, such as heart disease, which may be linked to markers of immune and hormone health.  Mental and physical ill health is costly to the NHS, organisations and society.  Whilst a small number of interventions for emergency workers are available, they are not very effective. Our team has taken a rigorous research approach to first identify their risk factors for ill mental health. Then, drawing on our expertise in treatment development, we developed an innovative intervention to change these risk factors early in the career of an emergency worker. The intervention will be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.