Early intervention: Do we need mental health prevention programs?

It is widely acknowledged that anxiety disorders are amongst the most prevalent mental health disorders occurring in childhood and adolescence. Children who suffer from high anxiety are also at risk of developing depression in adolescence and early adulthood (Costello, Erkanli, & Angold, 2006).

Can you think of how beneficial it would it be for individuals, families and the wider community if we could prevent the development of anxiety and depression? What do you think might happen if we could increase our emotional resilience and draw upon helpful coping skills before more serious emotional difficulties may occur?

Effective early intervention and prevention programs represent a significant opportunity to prevent a great deal of suffering for individuals and their families (Kessler et al., 2007). Early intervention programs are cost-effective as they reduce the expense of future professional services as well as target large groups of individuals over a relatively short time period. Emerging evidence suggests that preventative mental health interventions can not only reduce symptoms, but can also reduce the number of new disorders (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine Prevention Committee, 2009). Early implementation of emotional strategies can also improve social skills and future academic performance. What if children were able to recognise healthy friendships and relationships and enhance their confidence to focus on the ‘here and now’ instead of worrying about the past or fearing future?

Universal prevention programs

The FRIENDS Programs were created to assist children and adolescents at appropriate developmental levels to learn important skills and techniques to cope with and potentially overcome anxiety. As all children can benefit from early intervention for positive mental health, Resilience Kit runs targeted group programs to help strengthen and inspire all children – not just those prone to emotional distress.

Help your child cope with anxiety. Enrol today.

Ages 4 – 7 years

Ages 8 – 11 years

Ages 12 – 15 years


Costello, E. J., Erkanli, A., & Angold, A. (2006) Is there an epidemic of child or adolescent depression? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(12), 1263 – 1271.
Kessler, R. C., Angermeyer, M., Anthony, J. C., Demyttenaere, R. G. K., et al. (2007). Lifetime prevalence of age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry, 6, 168 – 176.
National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2009). Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.