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The READY Trial is a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of exercise in young people living with depression or low mood.

The aim of our research study is to find out whether physical activity is an effective treatment approach for young people with depression. We will recruit young people, aged 13-17 years, diagnosed with depression or low mood, from the NHS including Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, Community Services, and GP practices.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all group sessions are currently being delivered online to ensure that we meet with current government and medical advice and to protect the health and safety of participants and research staff.

Young people assessed as suitable for exercise will continue to receive their usual health care and will be allocated randomly (e.g. throwing a dice) to one of 3 groups:

Young people will attend two 60-minute sessions per week for 12 weeks. All groups will receive behaviour change education and support. Sessions will be delivered by Registered Exercise Professionals (REPs) supported by Mental Health Support Workers (MHSWs) at local sports and community centres or online should circumstances dictate.  Researchers will collect information from participants at the start, and at 14 and 26 weeks. This will include questionnaires on depression, quality of life, self-esteem, service use, session attendance and changes in physical activity. The researchers will ask some young people, parents/carers, REPs and MHSWs about their experience in the study.

Young people, aged 13-17, diagnosed with depression/low mood, from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and GP practices within the catchment area of three study sites in Norfolk (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust), Hertfordshire (Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust covering Watford and Stevenage) and Bedfordshire (East London NHS Foundation Trust covering Luton & Dunstable).

We are currently only able to consider young people via self-referral that are living in the catchment area of the services provided by one of the three NHS Trusts supporting the study.  This may change for the main trial.

Taking part in the groups may lead to an improvement in low mood or depression. It is hoped that the information from this phase of the study will help to determine if a larger trial is possible. In the long-term, this might show that the READY exercise groups are helpful for young people with depression. This may mean that young people can be offered an exercise group as an alternative to drug treatment or talk therapy for treating depression.

It’s difficult for some people to discuss personal things. If participants get upset whilst taking part, the researchers will stay with them until they feel better and make sure they know where to go for support if they need it. The exercises are safe for most young people, but they should not take part if they have been told by a doctor not to exercise.

With any exercise programme there is a small risk of minor injuries e.g. pulled muscles or sprains. More serious injuries that can be associated with exercising e.g. fractures or ligament damage, are very rare.

Depression is a mood disorder where you feel very down all the time. Depression can happen as a reaction to an event, but it can also run in families.

It is one of the most common types of mental illness and it does not only affect adults. Children and young people can get depressed too.

There is no one single factor that will lead to the onset of depression, genes and family tendencies can play a part but there are also many other factors that can act as potential triggers which may prompt depression.  Sometimes depression is triggered by 1 difficult event, such as parents separating, a bereavement or problems with school or other children.  Often it is caused by a mixture of things.

If you would like to find out more about the research study please contact us using the form below or via email: readytrial@herts.ac.uk

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