In 2011, a national roll-out of FRIENDS for Life across 14 geographically distributed schools in the Republic of Ireland reached a total of 244 students. This research project set out to explore if FRIENDS for Life could be successful in reducing anxiety levels with young people in Irish post-primary schools. FRIENDS for Life is the only anxiety prevention program acknowledged by the World Health Organization for its decades of comprehensive evaluation and practice.

Significant reductions in anxiety levels

The findings from this project give a strong indication that The FRIENDS Programs could make a significant contribution to building resilience and improving the emotional wellbeing and educational outcomes for young people in Irish schools. The findings from the research project demonstrated significant reductions in anxiety levels following the completion of FRIENDS for Life. Positive gains in young people’s emotional wellbeing, reported in previous Irish and international research, were confirmed by students and their parents. Before FRIENDS for Life, 18.8% of the 244 students who participated in the project rated themselves within the ‘elevated’ anxiety level (1 in every 5.3 students). This reduced to 10.2% of students (1 in every 9.8 students).

graphBefore and after self-report measures of anxiety (SCAS, SCAS-P; Spence , 1997) provided an overall measure of total anxiety as well as sub-type scores which corresponded to DSM-IV-TR anxiety disorder categories (see bar chart below). Before and after behaviour was measured through teacher rating and student rating forms (SDQ, Goodman, 2011).

 

Praised by teachers

Twenty seven teachers representing the 14 schools completed a Teachers’ Review following completion of the program and all reported positive developments in the students including improved self-confidence, an increased willingness to speak about feelings and becoming more settled in school. Equally teachers stated that the program had helped to normalise feelings of anxiety for the students.

The project was coordinated by The National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS), established by the Department of Education & Skills, Ireland. Download the full report here: http://www.nbss.ie/sites/default/files/friends_report_final_lr.pd

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Resilience Kit delivers The FRIENDS Programs to Western Australian families. To find out more, please visit our website www.resiliencekit.com.au or contact us if you have any questions.