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.

Find out what past participants have to say about their HEADS: UP experience on our YouTube channel.

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.

HEADS: UP Online

We completed a feasibility research study testing the HEADS: UP course online earlier this year. We are now running the next stage of that research, HEADS: UP Online: a randomised controlled trial. Recruitment to this current stage of the research closed on 30th November 2021.

Participants will be randomly allocated to one of two groups. The ‘intervention group’ will do the HEADS: UP Online course and the ‘control group’ will not. This will allow us to compare the effects of HEADS: UP against the baseline or ‘control’ group.

As this is a research study, all participants will be asked to complete a series of questionnaires, at three or four different time points over the course of 6 months. We will also ask participants to discuss their experience in small focus groups.

Participants randomly allocated to the intervention group will do the HEADS: UP Online course. An experienced MBSR trainer will lead weekly sessions of the online course for 9 weeks. We will provide course participants with resources to support their mindfulness practice.

If you’re interested in finding out more about HEADS: UP research, which ends in October 2022, please get in touch using the HEADS: UP contact details or the easy-to-complete 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 (PAG) is a group of people who support and advise the HEADS: UP study. There are eight members who are people affected by stroke, family members and health professionals involved in stroke care. They all have an interest in and experience of mindfulness. The PAG meet with members of the HEADS: UP research team every month and are involved in all aspects of the study.


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

Contact us

Please contact us if you would like information about HEADS: UP Stage 3 (recruitment opens in Summer 2021).

Email address: 

Phone number: 0141 331 3421

Register your interest in the HEADS: UP research