• E-Mental Health Group

Irish Research Council awards success

The e-mental health group together with SilverCloud Healthhave been successful in achieving two highly competitive Irish Research Council Enterprise – Academia partnership Awards. The first post-doctorate project aims to investigate the “Effectiveness of an internet-based transdiagnostic programme for the treatment of emotional disorders in a primary care setting in Ireland: a randomised controlled trial.” The award goes to Dr Alberto Gonzales-Robles, who earned his PhD at Professor Cristina Botella’s Lab LabPsiTec(Laboratory of Psychology and Technology), at Universitat Jaume I of Castellón and Universitat de Valencia, Spain. Dr Derek Richards, co-director of the e-mental health lab at TCD, was external supervisor for his doctoral work and since his graduation has supported him to achieve this current award.

SilverCloud Healthis a global leader in providing online cognitive behaviour therapy interventions for mental health and long-term conditions management. Recently, SilverCloud Health in collaboration with Professor David Barlowand his colleagues Professors Todd Farchione and Shannon Sauer-Zavala at Boston University have developed their Unified Protocol for emotional disorders online. The Unified Protocol for emotional disorders is a cutting edge cognitive-behavioral (CBT) treatment that can be used to treat many common mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Professors Barlow, Farchione & Sauer-Zavala will collaborate with Dr DerekRichardsand Professor Ladislav Timulakat the e-mental health lab on this project in Ireland.

The project will work with the Health Service Executive in Ireland to investigate the Unified Protocol recently develop in its online version. This work will build on other work that began in 2019 with the Health Service Executive in rolling out SilverCloud depression and anxiety online CBT interventions at primary care and supported by assistant psychologists across seven sites in Ireland.

The second award goes to Sharon Lee who for the past year has worked with Dr Derek Richards at SilverCloud Health. The PhD project will examine “Who does iCBT work for and why: A machine learning and network analysis approach to understanding and predicting treatment outcomes in internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and anxiety.” The project is a collaboration with Professor Claire Gillanat Trinity College Dublin, School of Psychology, Institute of Neuroscience [Gillan Lab]. Dr Richards and Dr Gillan are already in collaboration researching “An internet-based approach to scalable, treatment prediction research in mental health.” Dr Gillan currently directs a MQ funded project to develop tools that can improve the precision with which we allocate treatments in psychiatry. This project aims to use machine learning to develop an algorithm that can quantify how likely an individual is to respond to a range of antidepressant medications – we now extend this protocol to include online CBT treatment in collaboration with SilverCloud Health.

The IRC funded PhD will build on this work and the project seeks to leverage large patient samples to develop objective, data-driven tools that can improve precision in iCBT treatment allocation, by generating machine learning algorithms to predict the likelihood of an individual patient’s response to iCBT. In addition, the project seeks to complement this predictive approach with network analysis aimed at understanding why iCBT works for some, but not others; to examine the dynamic interactions between symptoms over time and how that varies depending on treatmentsuccess.SilverCloud healthare a global leader in online delivered mental health interventions and have delivered these to over 300,000 patients; providing access to the largest dataset of its kind available.

Both awards complement the already existing strategic research initiativesthat the e-mental health lab is involved with.

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