Implementation of Interpersonal counselling for adolescents (IPC-A) in Finland

In response to increased demand for prevention and treatment of adolescent depression, a national project to improve treatment of adolescent depression has taken place in Finland starting 2020.

The goal of this prospective observational cohort study is to describe pathways to mental health services in adolescents with depressive symptoms. The main questions it aims to answer are:

  • Do young people reporting depressive symptoms have equal access to treatment?
  • How can we identify those adolescents who will benefit from an intervention?

Researchers will compare an intervention that is new in Finland, adolescent interpersonal counseling (IPC-A), to other treatments of depression, to see if it is equal to or better than other treatments of depression.

What does it mean to participate in the study?

Adolescents who participate in the study will

  • receive information about depression and where to seek help
  • complete a survey on protective and risk factors of depression three times over 6 months
  • report possible depressive symptoms every two weeks over 6 months
  • report whether they needed and received help.

We will also collect

  • information from one of caretakers with two surveys within 6 month- intervals on their view on adolescent’s need for support, strengths and risks
  • where applicable, from the professional who provided support after the intervention on their training and competence as well as content of and response to treatment
  • register data to estimate overall provision and cost of social welfare and health care services one year preceding the study and over 2 to 10 years after the observation period.

What is IPC-A?

Adolescent interpersonal counseling (IPC-A) is an intervention to prevent and treat depression. It consists of 3 to 6 counseling sessions. In Finland, about 2000 professionals in primary care have been trained in IPC-A.

In our research we will evaluate the success of national dissemination.  We will estimate the proportion of lower secondary school students in need of intervention based on their subjective and parent report as well as symptoms in a 6 month prospective follow-up. We will test screens to identify adolescents in need of a preventive intervention. The support and treatment received will be described prospectively for 10 years in order to enable effectiveness and economical evaluation of treatment. The training and competence of professionals providing interventions will be described and correlated with adolescent response. Furthermore, we will observe equity in different population groups.