A Resilience Program for Ages 11 – 15 Years to Prevent and Reduce Anxiety.

High school can be a time of excitement, fun and new experiences. It can also be challenging and worrying. Excessive worry and unhelpful thinking patterns can prevent your adolescent from being the best they can be in their adult years.

Among the many mental health problems experienced by young people, anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions. If ignored or left untreated, anxiety in childhood and adolescence increases the risk of further negative outcomes in the short and long term. These negative outcomes may include subsequent anxiety and depression, increased medical use, poor outcomes at school and substance abuse in adulthood.

The good news is, students can enhance their social and emotional intelligence to prevent and reduce anxiety. They can do this by learning strategies early to manage stress at school, the workplace and in relationships. Developed by Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Paula Barrett, My FRIENDS Youth is an evidence-based resilience program that helps adolescents reach their goals and successfully deal with life challenges they face currently and in the future.

Although My FRIENDS Youth is open to 11 – 15 year olds, we aim to establish small groups of similar ages, same gender and mixed gender groups. We run separate for 11 – 12 year olds and 13 – 15 year olds.

Concepts, Skills and Strategies 

Session 1: Establishing group guidelines, getting to know one another, understanding and accepting differences, goal setting and identifying past success, understanding feelings in ourselves and others, body clues, emotion regulation, being a good communicator, empathy training

Session 2: Introduction to confidence, recognising aspects of our lives that build and detract from our confidence, how to be assertive without being aggressive, how to identify and be a true friend, advantages and disadvantages of online friendships, relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises

Session 3: How to use positive attention, the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, identifying helpful and unhelpful ways of thinking and challenging unhelpful thinking, using thoughts to change feelings, three steps for positive solutions, consolidation of thought challenging,

Session 4: Ways to cope and exploring solutions, breaking challenging and realistic goals down into small steps, effective study techniques and organisational skills for optimal sport and academic performance, learning to be brave and try new things, understand qualities of a true friend, practicing friendship skills and choosing healthy friendships

Session 5: How to reward ourselves when we have tried our best, using interpersonal rewards, value based role models, support groups and their positive qualities, expressing gratitude, altruism and giving back to the community.