UCL team develop mental health treatment for children with epilepsy

Published: March 08 2024
Last updated: March 26 2024

Grace Wood | The mental health treatment for children with epilepsy was published in The Lancet

The new mental health treatment is for children with epilepsyA mental health treatment for children with epilepsy, developed by scientists at University College London, has been shown to be more effective than standard care.

The study was published in The Lancet on March 7, 2024.

The Mental Health Intervention for Children with Epilepsy (MICE) is based on recommended treatments for common mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression, but was modified to help children who have more than one problem.

The study found that children who went through the MICE treatment had fewer mental health difficulties than those who had the usual treatment.

It was delivered over the phone or via video call so that people did not have to travel to hospital and miss time from school or work. It was also integrated into epilepsy services – meaning it could be delivered by non-mental-health specialists.

Patients were given an initial assessment followed by weekly calls with a clinician.

The study was done by researchers at UCL, in collaboration with Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, King’s College London and the University of California, Los Angeles, with funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

Lead author Dr Sophie Bennett said: “This treatment breakthrough means we have a new way to help children and young people with epilepsy who also have mental health difficulties.

“The treatment can be delivered from within epilepsy services to join up care. It doesn’t need to be delivered by specialist mental health clinicians such as psychologists.

“Integrating the care can help children with epilepsy and their families more effectively and efficiently. We were particularly pleased that benefits were sustained when treatment ended.”

Researchers trialled the treatment with 334 children and young people aged three to 18. Of these, 166 received MICE treatment and 168 received the usual treatment for mental health problems in children with epilepsy.

Co-chief investigator, professor Roz Shafran, said: “These groundbreaking findings not only promise brighter futures for children with epilepsy but also pave the way for a revolutionary shift in mental healthcare practices.

“The collaborative efforts of scientists, patients and healthcare professionals have brought forth a new era of treatment of mental health challenges associated with epilepsy, offering a beacon of hope for families in the face of mental health challenges associated with epilepsy.”