LIGHTmind study 2

Mindfulness-based self-help therapy with clinician support more effective and cheaper than NICE recommended clinician-supported self-help treatment for depression

Photo of a rainbow against a blue sky with clouds

For adults experiencing mild to moderate depression, a new study has concluded that clinician-supported mindfulness-based self-help therapy is more effective and cheaper than the current NHS clinician-supported cognitive behaviour self-help therapy.

Here we share findings from a randomised controlled trial comparing the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of supported mindfulness-based cognitive therapy self-help with supported cognitive behaviour therapy self-help for adults experiencing depression.

What is the LIGHTmind 2 study?

LIGHTmind stands for Low-Intensity Guided Help Through MINDfulness’ study.

Depression is extremely common with at least 1 in 10 people experiencing depression at some point in their lifetime. If depression is mild to moderate, cognitive behaviour therapy self-help (CBT-SH) books or resources are recommended in national treatment guidelines alongside a trained clinician supporting use of the self-help materials. However, a lot of people drop out from this approach limiting its effectiveness.

In the LIGHTMind 2 study, we wanted to see if another type of clinician-supported self-help called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy self-help (MBCT-SH) would be more helpful and save the NHS money in comparison to clinician-supported CBT-SH. In the study, 410 adults experiencing mild to moderate depression were allocated randomly to receive either clinician-supported CBT-SH or clinician-supported MBCT-SH and we followed participants up over the next 10 months to see how they were doing.

What did we find?

We found that people receiving clinician-supported MBCT-SH were significantly less depressed 16 weeks after the intervention started compared to people receiving clinician-supported CBT-SH. Not only was MBCT-SH more helpful, we also found that it saved the NHS over £500 per person compared with CBT-SH over the course of the study.

How can I find out more about the study?

You can read the published peer-reviewed article about the study.

The MBCT-SH book we evaluated in LIGHTMind 2 was The Mindful Way Workbook by John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal. Please note that the study included six sessions with a trained practitioner to support use of the workbook.

We are in the process of writing up the findings on other aspects of LIGHTMind 2 and information about and links to articles will be listed here as they are published.

With thanks to

We would like to thank the 410 people who generously gave their time to be involved in this study, without whom the study would not have been possible.

We are also very grateful to the Lived Experience Advisory Group who contributed to the design and running of LIGHTMind 2.

This study would not have been possible without support from Brighton & Sussex Clinical Trials Unit, NIHR’s Clinical Research Network, the Trial Steering Committee and the Data Monitoring and Ethics Committee.

We would like to extend our deep gratitude to the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and Research Assistants who were involved in the day-to-day running of the study. We would also like to thank the NHS Talking Therapies services (formally IAPT) services for taking part in this study: Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service, East Riding Emotional Wellbeing Service, Health in Mind in East Sussex, Health in Mind in North-East Essex, italk in Hampshire, Lewisham IAPT service, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Talking Change in Portsmouth, Talking Therapies Southwark and Time to Talk in West Sussex.

Study team

Clara Strauss (Chief Investigator), Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & University of Sussex
Kate Cavanagh, University of Sussex
Anna-Marie Bibby-Jones, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & University of Brighton
Fergal Jones, Canterbury Christ Church University
Sarah Byford, King’s College London
Margaret Heslin, King’s College London
Glenys Parry, University of Sheffield
Michael Barkham, University of Sheffield
Laura Lea, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Rebecca Crane, Bangor University
Richard de Visser, University of Sussex
Amy Arbon, Brighton & Sussex Clinical Trials Unit
Claire Rosten, University of Brighton

This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) [Research for Patient Benefit PB-PG-0815-20056]. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The funder did not contribute to the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.