Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment (COPE) for Children, Teens, and College Students

Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment (COPE) for Children, Teens, and College-Age Students

Background & Goal

One out of four children, teens, and college-aged youth suffer from a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety, yet less than 25% receive any treatment. This is largely due to an inadequate number of mental health providers. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, the second leading cause of death in 10- to 34-year olds. Although the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening all teens 12- to 18-years of age for depression, most providers do not screen because they do not have systems in place to manage treatment.

COPE is an innovative solution to address the high prevalence of child and adolescent anxiety and depression. It is the first known manualized intervention program that incorporates the key concepts from cognitive-based therapy (CBT) into a 7-session skills building program that can be delivered in brief 25 to 30 minute sessions.

Program Description

COPE is a variety of evidence-based CBT-based manualized intervention programs aimed at decreasing anxiety and depression as well as increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors and preventing overweight/obesity in children, teens, and college-aged youth. The COPE model consists of a 7-session brief CBT-based program delivered in 25-30 minute sessions by a variety of healthcare providers in primary care, school settings, and community-based mental health clinics.

Additionally, the COPE Health Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, and Nutrition) Program is a manualized 15-session CBT-based program that can be integrated into middle and high school educational curriculum.

For More Information Contact:


Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN

Evidence of Success

  • Both the 7- and 15-session COPE programs are now being heavily used in school curriculums and primary care settings with reimbursement across the U.S. in 44 states and five countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and Lebanon.

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has designated the COPE Health Lifestyles TEEN Program as a research tested intervention program as an obesity control intervention program for adolescents. 

  • Reimbursement to primary care providers delivering the 7-session COPE program equals $763. The average cost of a primary mental health hospitalization for a child or teen is $15,430. If 10,000 children/teens were hospitalized for depression, it would cost the healthcare system $154.3 million dollars. If hospitalization is prevented for those 10,000 children/teens by using the COPE 7-session program, the cost savings to the healthcare system would be $146.7 million.