We’re delighted to share the results from the BESST trial. Scroll down the page to learn more about our findings and the insights garnered from this study.

You can also read the full open-access research report in the Lancet Psychiatry journal using the button below.



  1. The DISCOVER workshop programme was found to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Overall, the participants receiving the workshop programme showed significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms on the MFQ measure of depression than those not receiving the workshop programme.

  2. In students showing elevated symptoms of depression at the start of the trial (above 27 on the MFQ measure), the workshop showed an even larger effect of significantly reducing depressive symptoms.

  3. Our results indicate the workshop program was probably cost-effective for all students, and very likely to be cost-effective for those with elevated depressive symptoms at the start of the trial. 


Other questionnaire measures allowed us to further understand the effect of the workshop on study participants. They answered questions regarding anxiety (RCADS), general wellbeing (WEMWBS) resilience (CYRM-12), and sleep (SCI).

We found that participants in the group receiving the DISCOVER workshop programme showed, on average, a greater reduction in their self-reported levels of anxiety than those receiving their usual school care without the workshop programme.

Students who received the workshop also showed a signifcantly greater improvement in levels of general wellbeing and resilience.


BESST employed a self-referral approach, allowing students to participate in the trial if they felt it was suitable for them.  

We were able to reach many young people who had not previously sought help through more formal routes: 80% of our sample had not previously sought help from their GP for their mental health.

We also had a diverse sample of students participating in the trial: 46% of our sample came from ethnic minority groups. 71% of our sample were female and 25% were male.

The Impact

BESST has garnered significant engagement and collaboration from 6th forms, students, and NHS services across England. Here are four key snapshots from the trial results.

DISCOVER has demonstrated potential to be a scalable intervention to improve mental health in 16-18 yr students throughout England.

This workshop programme was shown to be effective when delivered by NHS Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) based in Sixth Forms.

DISCOVER is likely to be cost-effective and may save the NHS money through early intervention.

Further work will help understand whether these positive effects continue to help adolescents as they transition to adulthood.