DISCOVER is a Maudsley Charity funded service that was devised by Psychologists from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The programme is delivered as a schools-based workshop for 16-18 year olds, who experience anxiety, low mood and stress. The programme runs in schools across London and the UK, in partnership with teachers.
The DISCOVER programme provides psychological advice and techniques for young people in an interactive and confidential workshop format, with inbuilt outcome evaluation. The award-winning project was launched in 2011 by Consultant Psychologist Dr Irene Sclare.
The Maudsley Charity has recently funded the DISCOVER project to develop a mobile phone app that provides tips and motivation to young people who have completed the DISCOVER course.
Delivering the training – from school visits to one-to-ones
“When we visit schools, we describe DISCOVER to the sixth form assembly, normalising the experience of feeling anxious and stressed, and the benefits of psychological techniques to deal with the problems this can create. We encourage students to come forward and decide if we think they would benefit from taking part in the programme. We first see them on a one to one basis which is followed by a one day group session within school, and a series of follow up phone calls.”
“At the workshop people are given a workbook with a series of exercises and resources for them to refer to, to keep them on track after the course, and maintain their motivation. Being given funding to develop an App means that we can equip young people with a much more comprehensive and mobile version of that.”
“We want our work to be developed with young people”
“There are some key values that run through all of the work we do.” explains Dr Ruth Braidwood “We want our work to be developed with young people, it’s important that we get feedback and we reflect on that.”
“Developing the App has been no different. We worked with a group of young people who have attended DISCOVER at their school, and a digital agency, InFact, to help explore the best ways for DISCOVER participants to engage with the app. The app enables us to do far more than the work book, we can help young people to set individual goals, motivate them and remind them of the techniques they learnt on the course. There’s even a BOT that they can engage with. We’re currently testing the App in several DISCOVER schools, getting user feedback about the content and design layout, and we hope to have it live shortly.”
Breakthroughs, finding meaning and sharing experiences
Kashai is one of the young people who has taken part in both the DISCOVER programme and the App development group.
“One of the big breakthroughs for me was around improving my sleep. Now I understand the science behind it, the difference sleep deprivation can make to my mood and how I react to things. The other thing that I have taken away from the course is the importance of being organised, when I’m organised I feel like I am in control of a situation.
“My experience of taking part in the DISCOVER workshop programme meant that even when I went to the App development workshop I was able to cope, I didn’t get stressed, and being involved in the App development meant a lot to me, because a lot of people are struggling with anxiety and it’s great that I can make a contribution to that.
“At the App development workshop I was able to meet other people, we brain stormed, share opinions and talk about our different reasons for being there and share our experiences. I’m so glad I got to take part in the DISCOVER project and I would really recommend it to other young people.
The Discover App has been developed by an NHS approved supplier, with advice and guidance from NHS Digital to ensure it is fully compliant with current digital healthcare standards.
“Before I took part in DISCOVER I used to get stressed about things, but I would ignore it. As part of the workshop, we worked through a number of scenarios that told the stories of young people – I was able to relate to their situations, taking part in DISCOVER enabled me to learn techniques that I applied to my everyday life, that was a few years ago, and I still remember and use them now.
In December 2019, the Maudsley Charity awarded additional funding to DISCOVER to support young people in care.
The programme will be delivered by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust clinicians, working with children and young people who have been in local authority care. The project will identify and support people experiencing anxiety, low mood or stress – helping them to learn coping techniques and skills. Funding for the project will also be used to teach NHS clinicians and local authority staff the skills to use this care model in their daily work, equipping staff with new clinical support skills.
“This funding will make a genuine difference to the lives of young people in London who are care leavers (people who have been in foster care or residential care). Leaving care can often be a challenging and daunting time and this funding of £180,000 from the Maudsley Charity will enable us to pilot and evaluate a project to help young people experiencing anxiety, low mood and stress learn skills and techniques to cope. Importantly the funding will also help us share the learning with other NHS and social care staff."