10/03/2014 06:25 GMT | Updated 10/03/2014 06:59 GMT

Oxford Mindfulness Centre Starts Initiative To Create A World Without Depression

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As the practice of mindfulness steadily gains popularity, underpinning its benefits to our daily lives is the new initiative by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) to beat depression.

Led by Professor Mark Williams, the OMC - part of the University of Oxford - has launched a £500,000 crowdfunding pitch hosted by Crowdcube so that funds can be funnelled into research to combat mental illness, in particular depression and anxiety. The area they want to explore is mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

Three million Brits suffer from depression, say the centre, and it costs the UK economy £11 billion in lost productivity. That, coupled with the sharp increase in anti-depressant use (from 9 million in 1991) to 47 million 2011), indicates that a more sustainable solution needs to be found.


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In a press release to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, they stated:

MBCT is undoubtedly one of the most effective methods of preventing depression. Significant recent findings have included clinical trials that show that MBCT can be as effective in preventing relapse as maintenance anti-depressants and can reduce the likelihood of relapse by between 40-50% for people who have suffered three or more episodes of depression. OMC has been involved at the leading edge of these research breakthroughs.

Oxford’s new trial completed in November 2013, in collaboration with Bangor University, is the largest study of MBCT to date. It showed that the effectiveness of MBCT in reducing the likelihood of relapse was even higher in the most severe cases of depression.

For these most vulnerable people, MBCT reduced the chance of relapse by 57% compared to continuing with their usual care. Recent results are also beginning to show that adolescents can benefit: it not only reduces existing depression, but also prevents new episodes.

Commenting, Professor Mark Williams added: “Our vision of a world without the devastating effects of depression is realistic IF we can share and progress our knowledge. This requires finance. The recent breakthroughs are all exciting and fundamental developments that will give hope to millions who are faced with a condition that, until now, has often been a life sentence. We need finance to share our proven expertise fast enough to stop people suffering needlessly. Ultimately it is our aim that anyone in any part of the world can access treatment for free at any moment once they have learnt the techniques.“

“Everyone is talking about mindfulness as a solution but in order to address the crippling and growing problem of depression, more action is needed. Our crowdfunding pitch aims to raise the finance needed to make treatment a reality for everyone and reduce the cost for businesses and the economy.”

Ruby Wax, who has championed mental illness, said: “By 2020, it will be stress that will be the killer and that is simply because of the way we think. Other countries are having wars are starving and we in the West, who have everything, are killing ourselves by how we think. Mindfulness is the solution but we need support and funding to share and progress this vital knowledge.”

Details of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre’s fundraising through Crowdcube can be found here.