Brain and Behavior, Mental Health

Single Session Mental Health Interventions

By Ryan Coyle, MBJ Staff Writer

A staggering number of teens with mental health issues like depression and anxiety are not receiving the help they need. Multi-session based therapies can be expensive and time demanding, but there may be a promising new type of intervention for youths with mental health struggles. Single-session Interventions (SSI) offer a new and improved perspective due to time efficiency and hopeful results. One recent study examined the effect of a Single-session Intervention focused on a growth mindset to reduce depression and anxiety while increasing self-perceived control.

The research team divided participants into two randomized groups after completing a baseline exam of depression and anxiety. One group received the growth mindset intervention while the control group received a more generic intervention. The growth mindset intervention was a computer program that lasted 30 minutes and taught teens about neuroplasticity and the ability to change personality for the better. The intervention included stories from older teens who overcame their depression and anxiety with a growth mindset.

Even though the intervention only lasted 30 minutes, the effect from that one session could still be measured 9 months after. The participants were assessed again through self-report and parental reports. Of the teens in the growth mindset group, the results showed that parents reported significantly lower scores of depression and anxiety in their child compared to the teens in the control group. Also, the growth mindset teens self-reported lower scores of depression and increased scores of behavioral control compared to their baseline score! The Single-session Intervention is more cost and time effective compared to multi-session intervention therapies, and with continued research may become even more effective and widely-used in upcoming years!


Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2018; 59(2), 160-170

Schleider, J., & Weisz, J. (2018). A single‐session growth mindset intervention for adolescent anxiety and depression: 9‐month outcomes of a randomized trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry59(2), 160-170

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