Colour Breathing Disks Provide Breakthrough For Mental Health

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White Paper – A new Mental Health Intervention and Technology Innovation for improving patient access to behavioral health, wellbeing and prevention programs delivering measurable outcomes. 

Written by Alison Bourne 


Mental health is a global issue and of growing public health concern. Poor mental health and lack of any appropriate provision can exacerbate anxiety, depression and long term conditions. Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. The World Health Organisation is projecting the global cost of depression alone will be £30T by 2030. Mental health conditions impact the individuals, their immediate families, local communities and the national socio-economic landscapes. A recent study by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) used social marketing to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. They found evidence that their campaign efforts to reach California residents in psychological distress were successful and 120,000 residents may have received services as a result of exposure to their mental health education campaigns. Helping people to not feel inferior or flawed about having a mental health condition and take positive action.

Some key facts for worldwide mental health The Mental Health Foundation website states how:

  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.

Some key facts for UK NHS mental health:

  • NHS England statistics reveal that of the 1 in 4 people5 who experience problems each year , 75% receive no help despite the NHS spending £9.2bn per year.
  • Mental health conditions cost the UK economy £105bn and it is suggested those with severe conditions may have a 15-20 years shorter life expectancy.
  • There is a lack of enough money, Doctors, trained Psychological Therapists and time for quality human interaction in mental health provision, despite the Parity of Esteem pledge for physical vs. mental health in 2014. The UK media carries a constant stream of mental health stories – often about long waiting times, poor quality standards or general lack of mental health support. Individuals with anxiety and depression need caring human contact and social interaction for their health and wellbeing. There is a growing number of ‘online supports’ being offered to patients with mental health conditions but technology does not always provide the best solution. It has been said that up to 70% of GP appointments are due to stress related conditions and despite increasing investment into the IAPT Programme for NHS Patients to receive talking therapy there is still in some areas of the country, more than 4 months waiting time to receive Cognitive Behavioural Technique.
  • Use of Antidepressants – The UK now has the seventh highest prescribing rate for antidepressants in the Western world, with around four million Britons taking them each year. The Quality Watch report “Focus On: Antidepressant prescribing Trends in the prescribing of antidepressants in primary care” provides detailed analysis of this trend including how socio economic conditions and loss of employment can also contribute to the problem. In 2014 there were 53 million prescriptions – twice as many as a decade ago. In 2014 The Health and Social Care Information Centre found NHS spending on anti-depressants had risen by one third in just a year.NHS spending on the drugs rose by 33.6 per cent since the previous year, to £282 million. NHS guidance says anti-depressants should not be offered as the first resort for people with mild to moderate depression, and says that such cases should instead be referred for “talking therapy” such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The Telegraph newspaper reported a “Staggering rise in prescribing of anti-depressants” mentioning (UK) mental health charities said ‘they were concerned that people suffering from depression were being given drugs because other help – such as counselling, which was sometimes more appropriate – was not available.’

Other drivers to include:
• Complementary health is often not regulated enough to provide more holistic choice and solutions in clinical settings. The benefit of meditation and mindfulness practice is only just becoming recognised.

• There is perhaps too much focus of using CBT? (Cognitive Behavioural Technique) For many years the NHS IAPT programme has focused on the use of CBT as their evidence based psychological therapy intervention to offer NHS patients. (NHS England is currently aiming to put even more trained CBT therapists into GP surgeries.) However there are a growing number of mental health professionals now ‘speaking out’ who do not believe that CBT is always found effective. A clinical lead with 25 years professional mental health experience who will be starting a CBRT NHS pilot soon estimates that ‘at least 80% of his known Patients will have already experienced CBT’ and yet of these NHS Patients, “most have only found a ‘minimal to moderate’ improvement and are still facing ‘major’ mental health issues.” Also of the Patients on record, it is estimated that only 20% have found any form of ‘long term remission’ from their difficulties through using CBT. He already has a waiting list of keen NHS Patients looking forward to receiving CBRT treatments.


What is CBRT?

  • CBRT provides a first tier mental health prevention strategy and relaxation support intervention for all mental health programmes. The Colour Breathing Disks created in 1997 by Alison Bourne were made to promote natural relaxation. The Colour Breathing Relaxation Technique has evolved through ongoing research and development. It is believed that CBRT can support a wide group of people, suitable for all age groups and abilities. To date, CBRT has been used in the UK to support initiatives for stigma and discrimination reduction, suicide prevention, life after cancer and student mental health. CBRT feedback from recent work in Northern Ireland continues to demonstrate how CBRT provides valuable support in recovery and rehabilitation community based programmes.
  • A technology which uses colour science. With many people finding it difficult to relax and research indicating that >70% of the population are visual learners – CBRT provides a ‘leading edge’ relaxation intervention and compact psychological therapy which is user-friendly. Based on a set of seven compelling/radiant “Colour Breathing Disks©”, each having a unique gradient design for the primary focus whilst becoming aware of the physical body and breathing pattern. Colours can have a strong emotional or visceral effect and can affect our psychological state. There is also increasing evidence that colour can impact upon health and well-being. The use of light to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder is now quite well established and there is some evidence that light of particular colour can have a particular effect on e.g. the human circadian rhythm – linked to various diseases including some cancer, diabetes, depression. There is currently great interest in whether colour could be used to impart health benefits or to induce well-being in Patients. In particular, there is interest in using colour-related methods as way to alleviate problems caused by anxiety, depression and degenerative conditions such as Dementia as a more sustainable treatment path when compared with drug prescription. The effects of using CBRT, the resulting neuroplasticity (and neuropharmacology ‘pre and post treatment’ requirements) are potential areas in which CBRT plan to investigate in future research programme collaborations with interested bioscience and neuroscience partners.
  • A disruptive innovation CBRT has the real potential to transform mainstream mental health provision and health prevention programmes to provide effective, yet low cost therapy treatments for patients experiencing anxiety, depression and long term conditions. There are new patent applications planned.
  • The CBRT PT System™ is unique. CBRT is a bridge between CAM and traditional psychiatric therapies in that it can be delivered by many people rather than just a few and still deliver measurable outcomes as part of a mental health and wellbeing programme. CBRT can be taught to many different professionals within nursing, allied healthcare, education, social care, counselling through attending the two day CBRT Practitioner Training Programme, which is currently completed by completion of a 40 question assessment paper and 10 case studies. CBRT Practitioners are trained to deliver a quality structured 45 minutes relaxation support session experience, suitable for 1 : 1 individual and group settings of up to 20 people. CBRT is working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families, and communities through training CBRT Practitioners tin communities, creating an easily accessible national grassroots ‘support team’ and network of CBRT Relaxation Support Sessions. CBRT Practitioners trained since 2005 work within mental health, social care and education in their communities. An example is Dr. K.T.Birinder, an NHS GP based in Barnsley who since being trained in 2005 has been using CBRT with her Patients in her GP Practice. CBRT is a straightforward, easy to use, low cost psychological therapy which people appear to enjoy using.
  • Visual Mindfulness made easy with Positive Affirmations Colour Breathing is a unique form of visual mindfulness which uses pure colour as the focus for relaxation, awareness of the physical body and correct breathing whilst using affirmations (for positive psychology) in the ‘present moment.’ The CB Disks are designed to be a focus whilst breathing for mind-body awareness (mindfulness) during gradual body relaxation. Colour Breathing Disks are seven circles of pure colour (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and magenta) each with a distinctive varying gradient design. They are each presented in individual settings on a white background in the order of (R, O, Y, G, B, P, M) in an easel card, ‘stand alone’ format, with a wire-o-bind attachment mechanism, which enables each CB Disk to be viewed and changed in the correct sequence during the relaxation session. Each colour relates to a different areas of the body (‘Chakra energy centres in ancient Vedic Vibrational Energy Medicine texts, location key endocrinal glands) being base of spine, pelvic area, stomach, heart/lungs, throat, forehead and crown areas. CBRT uses positive affirmations in the form of 70 CBRT Affirmation Cards during the structured relaxation process; the CBRT Affirmation cards are selected for each Colour Breathing Disk by the user as part of the process, so the user feels engaged and self empowered in their relaxation session.
  • Easier communication and using the CBRT Initial Response Sheets™

Mental health professionals using CBRT have found using Colour Breathing in their practice a beneficial and positive intervention as it encourages open dialogue, free communication, providing new self care skills and feelings of self empowerment for their patients. Part of the unique CBRT relaxation ‘experience’ for individual users is completion of the CBRT “Initial Response Sheets” (IRS) with their CBRT Practitioner prior to their first and last CBRT Relaxation Support Session (RSS) – these form the foundation of how CBRT can be used as a form of ‘Talking Therapy.’

What needs to change:

1. NHS Entry. “ It can take 18 years to get any innovation into the NHS.”

  • Colour Breathing has progressed through ongoing research and development since 2003, including 3 years inclusion in the EI (Emotional Intelligence) led “Discovery Programme” (2003 – 2006) in Primary schools in Hampshire and also used in community based mental health & wellbeing programmes in Belfast and Northern Ireland (2005 to present) supported by “Action Mental Health” and “NHS Southern Health Care Foundation Trust.” This changed in 2009, when a SEHTA (South East Health Technology Alliance) Consultant suggested Colour Breathing become focused on serving the ‘home healthcare market sector’ first, through NHS entry and create the acronym “CBRT.” Between 2010 – 2016, CBRT has been 100% focused with preparations for NHS entry, starting with great success showcasing at the very first 2011 NHS/DH Healthcare Innovation Expo. This was swiftly followed with high profile meetings with NHS England Directorate, interested clinicians and NHS NIHR research teams. At one meeting CBRT was advised that a budget of at least £20 million pounds would be required should the NHS start to create a new psychological therapy intervention from scratch.
  • Since 2011, CBRT has undertaken five years preparation for NHS entry including extensive and independent NHS due diligence. Between 2011 – 2013, a detailed CBRT NHS QIPP Initiative was written (supported by senior NHS management including Department of Health Innovation Policy Teams) to national guidelines to help improve ‘QIPP’ (Quality Improvement, Productivity and Prevention) for initial mental health provision for NHS patients and NHS cost savings. Independently verified by senior management inside many other NHS organisations (including the NHS NIC (National Innovation Centre) and NHS South of England, £18 million pounds QIPP cost savings were projected for an initiative cost of c.£1 million pounds. The focus was to created NHS evidence and train nurses, allied healthcare staff and healthcare assistants to be able to deliver CBRT Relaxation Support Sessions for >10,000 patients. In 2012 CBRT was given additional support to help find funding from the DoH Innovation Commercial Procurement Team and completed the NHS NIC (National Innovation Centre) Technology Scorecard Process due diligence process (overall score 92.53%) as a medical device (technology) and psychological therapy system. The Colour Breathing products including the two part Book Kit, Audio CDs, Affirmation Cards and Practitioner Training Programme were included in the review. Despite a very successful outcome, the NHS NIC did not have the funding ability to action the initiatives.
  • A Senior NHS Psychological Therapies Commissioning Manager (NHS South of England) independently reviewed the CBRT NHS QIPP Initiative document, writing : “The principles of building confidence and socialisation are good, as commissioners we understand how important this is for a patient’s recovery. The proposal is very good and well presented, with a good evidence base and clinical outcomes. On paper, the savings are good, a reduction in primary care presentations, and this is similar to IAPT where we also know there are reductions in referrals to secondary care.” In 2013, the then NHS England National Director of the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) Adult Programmes stated that “CBRT is a policy matter of national interest.”
  • In 2013, 5 months further independent due diligence completed by the Innovation Manager of ‘NHS South of England’ aligned the potential NHS Patient benefits of CBRT with the existing ‘NICE Quality Standards for Depression.’ CBRT has also been selected for various healthcare poster presentations including selection by a BMJ and NHS England panel for the 2013 “Future of Health Conference” for Long Term Conditions.

2. Private inventors need funding support.

It is known there is a need to improve mental health provision worldwide. So why is there no UK finance or national funding being made available to support private healthcare innovation which focuses on the support of mental health provision?

  • Mental health deemed “a national problem to solve.” CBRT has found UK Angel investment networks feel that mental health innovation is a matter for the NHS to solve. Their focus seems to be startups in genetics, bioscience, pharmaceuticals, telemedicine, and digital/APPs – especially where there is a tie in with universities and additional NHS or government grant funding. The Uk Government currently supports innovation through grants for companies which have already achieved substantial turnover and many grants must be used in collaboration with academic groups or universities who are already publically funded. The funding of 18 years of concept, research and development of a new mental health apparatus and psychological therapy intervention has been a massive challenge. Those who call themselves “innovators” are really designers if cocooned in a day job inside the NHS or universities. Their very privileged positions to ‘design to order’ mean they are protected from the risks associated with ‘real world innovation’ through having a paid ‘day job’ with salary, pension, perks, holiday pay yet no personal risk. Offices, equipment, meetings, cars, travel, ‘healthcare conferences’, overnight stays, time dedicated to research, development – writing grant applications…all funded. Today, the word ‘innovation’ is overused by so many who have never actually invented anything new.
  • There is a lot of hype and media about the UK government supporting UK invention but sadly CBRT has experienced the very opposite. UK High Street Banks chose to not support private healthcare innovation. They do not consign any value to products or IPR created through 18 years research and development engagement in innovation to develop effective new prototypes and interventions. Despite themselves being “bailed out” by the British tax payer, Uk Banks are extremely close minded to healthcare innovation. In 2010, Colour Breathing IPR was said to be “of substantial value” and a professional valuation of the company is now being undertaken for the investment purposes. Why then, will UK Banks not support the use of the valuation of a companies IPR, research and development for use as an asset to raise a bank loan? For too long, the public sector and large private healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have dominated innovation. CBRT has experienced how public sector healthcare innovation funding programmes are biased towards supporting its own people and not for profits – some of whom are also able to fulfil the criteria to apply for grant funding from charitable foundation grants, EU funding programmes and collaborations with universities. Questions sent to NHS England about £6 million RIF (Regional Innovation Funding) applications for the CBRT NHS QIPP Initiatives which had the support of three pioneering CEOs of NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to action the studies remain unanswered.
  • In 2014 I met the Managing Director of an AIM listed UK behavioural health company. Their company had invested more than £20 million pounds into an online mental health programme, based on CBT (cognitive behavioural technique.) CBT is an existing psychological therapy, evidence based and NICE approved. He could not believe how any healthcare inventor could create so much for so little e.g. a quality apparatus/technology with existing Patent and new patent applications -soon to be registered as a class one medical device – resulting in a brand new psychological intervention with related Practitioner Training Programme could be created on such a small budget. A senior NHS England clinician advisor suggested in discussion “In normal circumstances…this type of innovation only happens with clinicians and front line staff.”

3. Why is innovation and healthcare so different in the USA?

  • Investment in innovation and entrepreneurs seems to be treated is so different in the USA – where mistakes made along the way are seen as learning curves rather than failures. There seems to be more support for ‘blue sky’ thinking – which surely is what innovation is all about? I recently read about the Shyp start up raising > $63 million USD. In the USA, the population spends $38 billion USD a year on CAM medicine alone and there is a growing use of Yoga and meditation being used for self help and wellbeing. The USA population invest in their healthcare and over 50 million USA population have an in mind-body-spirit development. It often feels as though USA healthcare debate is twenty or thirty years ahead of the UK e.g. the fields of Energy Psychology and Quantum Healing are becoming widely discussed by many. In the USA, the population spends $38 billion USD a year on CAM medicine alone and there is a growing use of Yoga and meditation being used for self help and wellbeing. The USA population invest in their healthcare.

4. Change is happening for CBRT – thanks to having inward investment with an innovation focused management team.

  • A quality focused intervention. CBRT has always been about providing excellent quality products and training programmes. This critical stage of investment provides not only the funding capability to complete the quality management systems but also deliver the complete business plan. There are also new patent applications planned. The investment strategy includes collaboration with a branding alliance team to oversee professional launches of Colour Breathing as a brand and CBRT as a mental health and wellbeing intervention to the global market. With a growing consumer interest in self help tools and training programs for new health and wellbeing approaches in many territories, CBRT looks forward to launching in the USA and Middle East, as well as the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • New CBRT research programs and CBRT Advisory Board – with a focus in the USA and Middle East CBRT will now have the freedom to conduct clinician led behavioural health research outside of the Uk and create new products to launch in new territories, including The Middle East. Our business model includes over 60 new and exciting consumer-friendly products – many of which have been suggested by mental health professionals and made into prototypes during the last 18 years. CBRT is already attracting high calibre professionals to create the CBRT Advisory Board.

CBRT will finally become NHS evidence based. During 2016, CBRT ™ RSS will be delivered and evaluated within a community primary care general practice setting by a NHS General Mental Health Practitioner. The clinical lead has completed a two day CBRT Practitioner Training Programme, 40 question assessment paper and 10 case studies. It is anticipated that many of the trial group participants will not have experienced Colour Breathing or mindfulness based practices before. Each Patient will receive between 4 to 8 individual ‘One to One’ sessions as part of their treatment, with possibility of future inclusion of small CBRT group sessions (> 5 patients) for ongoing support. CORE –OM* is a known system of choice for routine outcomes measurement in psychological therapies in the UK and helps fulfil NHS IAPT KPIs* and data standards and requirements. Therefore CORE 34 will be used as the Patient outcome measure to gauge the effectiveness of the treatment both in terms of the way it was viewed by the participants and also whether their mental health conditions or sense of well-being has been improved. The premise is that this innovation, in which the application of colour is part of the clinical practice, will provide Patients with a new mental health intervention for long term support and create the first NHS evidence base. The Colour Breathing Apparatus and Practitioner Training Programme are being prepared for Quality Management Systems ISO: 13485 (Class 1 Medical Device); CE mark for EU healthcare sector, FDA (USA compliance registration) and CPD Training Accreditation with The Royal College of Nursing and other leading training organisations.
A final note from inventor Alison Bourne CBRT is grateful for continual support received by both clinicians and the public alike. Strength in the knowledge that Colour Breathing “works” has fuelled the buoyancy of the project, even in the most difficult times. It is wonderful to know that the program is finally moving forwards now – due to this marvellous investment opportunity and high calibre international management team in place.

CBRT is yet to meet any other healthcare inventors who have been forced to go through so many challenges and self fund entire finance requirements to complete key research and development stages. We have been forced to take ALL the risks and mortgage, remortgage, and remortgage properties many times since 2000, borrow from family and friends, use up complete inheritance gifts and in times of financial difficulty, completely ruin our personal credit score ratings – to reach where we are now. This MUST BE STOPPED if we are to encourage private innovation. I certainly would not wish this difficult journey to be experienced by anybody else.