Helping Ease Anxiety and Depression after Stroke (HEADS:UP) Chief Scientists Office: August 2017 – January 2019 The Stroke Association: June 2019 – October 2022

What is HEADS: UP?

Many stroke survivors experience emotional difficulties and problems with mood. This could include feelings of stress, anxiety and depression after stroke. Mindfulness has been found to help individuals manage these issues.

HEADS: UP is an innovative 9-week course designed to help individuals affected by stroke to learn mindfulness skills that might help them to cope with emotional difficulties, particularly anxiety and depression. It is based on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction therapy.

What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction?

Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat Zinn explains mindfulness as paying attention to the present moment on purpose and without judgement.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a self-management course that teaches people mindfulness skills that may help them to cope better with anxiety and depression. Exercises used during the course include meditation, mindful breathing, and mindful movement. With practice, these exercises can help improve your mindfulness skills. Working together with people affected by stroke we developed the HEADS: UP course –  a stroke-specific version of MBSR.

Take Part Online

Currently we are running a feasibility research study (F2) to test the HEADS: UP course online. We have recruited a small group of participants who will take part in the research in January 2021. An experienced MBSR trainer will lead the HEADS: UP course, online, for a block of 9 weeks. Each week, participants will attend the online sessions, and will be given materials and resources to support their mindfulness practice. As this is a research study, participants will be asked to complete a series of questionnaires before and after the HEADS: UP course. We will also ask participants to discuss their experience of HEADS: UP Online in a small focus group.

Once this study (F2) is completed in Spring 2021, we will start recruitment to the next stage of the research (Stage 3). We will be aiming to recruit 120 participants to Stage 3. If you’re interested in taking part, or know someone who might be interested, please get in touch using the contact details or the form below.

Publications & Media

Registered Protocols

Project Team


  • Chief Scientists Office: August 2017 – January 2019
  • The Stroke Association: June 2019 – October 2022

Project Advisory Group

The Project Advisory Group is a group of people who support and advise the HEADS: UP project. They may be people affected by stroke, their friends or family, or people who have an interest or experience in mindfulness. If you are interested in joining this group, we’d love to hear from you.


We would like to thank all individuals and organisations who have contributed to our project and especially our lay representative.

Contact us

Stage 2 recruitment is now closed. Please contact us if you would like information about HEADS: UP Stage 3 (recruitment opens in Spring 2021).

Email address: 

Phone number: 0141 331 3421

Register your interest in the HEADS: UP research