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In 2013, Scotland participated in a joint bid to the European MasterMindCommission as part of the ICT Policy Support Programme seventh call for proposals. The bid was entitled MASTERMIND and was developed by a consortium of 9 European Union Member States, involving 14 pilot sites and 22 partners. 

MasterMind was designed to evaluate the implementation and impact of online computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) for people suffering from depression. The bid was successful and the MasterMind project officially started on the 1 March 2014 for a duration of 3 years with Scotland taking a leading role within the project and on its scientific committee.  The total funding package is €14 million of which Scotland has secured €560,000.

In Scotland the MasterMind project aims to make high quality treatment for depression more widely available for adults suffering from the illness by the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT).  This achieved through the development, running and evaluation of cCBT services in 4 Health Boards; NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Grampian, NHS Fife and NHS Shetland - covering over 1.6 million people.  A major cause of morbidity worldwide, depression is characterised by its high incidence, and high social and economic cost.  The scientific evidence tells us that CBT delivered through the medium of ICT is clinically effective

Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy, cCBT, is useful for adults with mild to moderate depression and anxiety who require a flexible treatment, accessible from different locations at a time that suits them. It is also suitable for patients who don't like the idea of talking therapies or would prefer the anonymity that computerised treatment offers.

Scotland is punching above its weight on this project.Presenting the Scottish experience of the MasterMind project in Denmark, October 2015

The target sample for Scotland was 1400 patients.  This was achieved 12 months into the 24 month trial with the current sample of more than 3000 patients.  In so doing, Scotland is the only region that has achieved and exceeded its target to date. This success has been attributed to the speed of implementation, service model and commitment within the participating Boards.  Since October last year Chris Wright, Service Development Manager for the project in Scotland, Professor Kevin Power of NHS Tayside and Geraldine Bienkowski, NHS Education for Scotland, have presented the Scottish experience and approach to Mastermind to expert audiences from across Europe at meetings in Denmark and Italy.

You can see their presentation to an audience in Italy from February 2016 here and read an account of the event on the MasterMind webpages.

Quotes from patients using the Mastermind programme

Beating the Blues has made a huge difference to the way I have been feeling.  I am now able to be more positive about life.  I liked how I could complete the session whenever I was able do so rather than having the structure of an appointment”. 

I thought the programme was excellent, just the right amount of information and complexity without being difficult.  I really feel that a particular few methods of CBT I learned will be invaluable to my progression to better mental health”.

Quotes from staff working with the Mastermind Programme

“I really enjoy working  on the MasterMind project, I like the quick and effective way that I am able to contact patients and get them set up on the programme within a few days of receiving their referral.  Getting positive patient feedback on the programme and knowing that it has helped to improve people’s lives give me a real sense of job satisfaction."

“It has been a great experience being part of implementing the service in NHS Fife and seeing this grow from strength to strength. It’s always nice to speak to patients at the beginning of the programme and then again at the end and see the positive difference this has made for them”. 

“Working within a role on the cCBT service, everyday is different, there is a great sense of achievement and job satisfaction when you are helping/supporting patients/users overcome their own difficulties/depression.  The many thank you cards/emails received supports the patients/users positive journey.  A great benefit to online cCBT is it can be accessed almost immediately, therefore possibly alleviating patients/users mental health state becoming worse."

Geraldine Bienkowski – Senior Psychologist

"‘MasterMind’ is a large EU project aiming to make high quality treatment for depression, in particular staff-supported computer-based CBT (cCBT) easily accessible.  Effective, efficient and cost-effective interventions such as cCBT can help NHS Boards to increase the availability of evidence-based treatment, and decrease waiting times. Among the 10 EU countries involved in the project, uptake of cCBT is highest in Scotland by several orders of magnitude, which is very impressive indeed. The project is clearly very well organised, and no doubt there are many local factors which contribute to its success, but current SG policy and implementation strategy, the culture of evidence-based practice, and the national infrastructure provide by NES and other Special Health Boards, all enable the up-scaling of effective treatments”.

Presenting the Scottish experience of the MasterMind project in Italy, February 2016Key statistics for MasterMind

- 49% of patients are aged between 16 and 35

- 40% are aged between 46 and 65

- 18% of patients have had depression for over 10 years

- 68% of patients are female

- 25% of patients have had no previous treatment

- 18% of patients have had counselling or psychotherapy