Friends for Life was first implemented in our school in 2016. It’s junior programme, ‘Fun Friends’ was introduced to junior and senior infants in 2017.
The ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme is a school-based positive mental health programme. The World Health Organisation cites ‘FRIENDS for Life’ as the only evidence-based programme effective at all levels of intervention for anxiety in children (WHO 2004). The programme helps students to develop effective strategies to deal with worry, stress and change and teaches the skills required to reduce anxiety and promote resilience. It is beneficial for all students, irrespective of their anxiety level.
The word ‘FRIENDS for Life’ is an acronym that helps children and adolescents to remember the coping steps to follow:
F – Feeling Worried?
R – Relax and feel good
I – I can do it!
E – Explore solutions and coping step plans
N – Now reward yourself
D – Don’t forget to practice
S – Stay cool!
There are three main components in ‘FRIENDS’ based on CBT principles; (1) Learning/ Behaviour, (2) Cognitive and (3) Physiological. The Learning/Behaviour component involves helping children and adolescents to problem solve, use coping skills, expose themselves gradually to feared situations, reward themselves for brave behaviour and identify positive role models and support networks. The Cognitive component involves helping children and adolescents to use positive self-talk (green thoughts), challenge negative self-talk (red thoughts), evaluate themselves realistically and reward themselves. The Physiological component involves teaching children and adolescents to be aware of their body clues, to use relaxation techniques and to self-regulate.
Read the ‘FRIENDS’ Research Report by clicking on the link below