The governments of Belgium and the Netherlands have adopted a UT-created program for treating children with depression.
Mental-health professionals in Belgium and the Netherlands now must use the program to receive financial support from their governments. Created by UT educational psychologist Kevin Stark, the ACTION treatment program is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Meeting at the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, mental-health professionals from a number of European countries sanctioned the ACTION program while developing guidelines for treating various psychiatric disorders. Other European countries are also expected to formally adopt the treatment.
Stark developed the ACTION program using findings from a five-year National Institutes of Health-funded study he conducted on depression in girls. The study was the largest ever conducted on depressed pre-teen and early teen girls.
Stark found the treatment program effective in helping youth manage and overcome depression. This clinical approach emphasizes coping skills, problem solving, and the need to change unrealistic, negative thinking as a way to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
“We teach the girls to recognize when they are feeling bad and that they can take action to help themselves to feel better,” says Stark, a professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology.
Children’s parents and teachers are taught to help them learn and apply new skills.