Youth Metacognitive Therapy (YoMeta)

  • 1 in 8 children and young people suffer mental health problems needing support or treatment, with 1 in 20 suffering more than one mental health problem.
  • Emotional disorders, which include anxiety, depression and stress disorders were the most common type of mental health problem with 1 in 12 children and young people experiencing them.
  • Experiencing a mental health problem can impact progress at school, relationships with others and increase the risk of long-term mental health problems.
  • The UK Government and NHS have recognised and highlighted the importance of improving children and young people’s mental health.
  • The most common treatment offered for children and young people is cognitive behavioural therapy, which is time consuming, delivered over many weeks and can only focus on the most upsetting problem first.


There is a need to provide alternative and effective treatments for children and young people that can treat multiple mental health problems at once. Metacognitive therapy, which has previously been delivered in groups, is an effective approach in adults that could offer a solution.


Aim of the project:

The aim of this project is to see if participating in a randomized trial of group metacognitive therapy is a feasible and acceptable treatment for children and young people experiencing stress, anxiety or depression or a combination of these conditions in comparison to usual care.


What are we going to do?

We will conduct a feasibility trial with 2 conditions: group metacognitive therapy OR treatment as usual with children and young people aged 11-16 seeking treatment for anxiety disorders, stress disorders and/or depression. This means that participants will be randomly (like flipping a coin) assigned to receive either group metacognitive therapy or treatment as usual. Group metacognitive therapy will run over 8 sessions, lasting about 90 minutes each. Treatment as usual will vary but patients will usually receive up to 12, 1 hour, sessions of cognitive behavioural therapies or family therapy delivered one to one. Participants in the trial will be followed up by the research team three times after receiving their treatment to see how they are getting on.

Results of this trial will allow the research team to answer key questions about whether running a definitive trial is an acceptable, feasible and effective option. We will answer questions specifically about the therapy protocol and delivery, recruitment and retention of patients as well as the measures we use. We must answer these questions first, to allow us to find out if we can investigate group metacognitive therapy as a potentially effective treatment for children and young people. 

We are looking for people to advise the research team on this project by providing feedback on plans, approach, and language. For more information, please click here.