The FRIENDS programmes are Australian developed cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) based programs, endorsed by the World Health Organisation, as best practice for the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression, promoting resilience in families, schools and communities.
The suite of FRIENDS programs (Fun FRIENDS, FRIENDS for Life, My FRIENDS Youth and Adult Resilience – Strong Not Tough) show effectiveness at post 12 months and 3 years, by reducing reported anxiety and depression symptoms and increasing resilience, self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-esteem and social emotional skills.
The Programmes have also been shown to improve peer relationships and positive attitudes towards learning and the school environment generally.
The programs have a firm theoretical and evidence basis. The theoretical model for the prevention and early intervention of anxiety and depression addresses attachment (emotions), physiological (body), cognitive (mind), and learning (behaviour) processes, which interact in the development, experience and maintenance of anxiety.
FRIENDS is an acronym that helps children remember the strategies taught that can be used to effectively manage anxiety:
F = Feelings (empathy training and self-regulation)
R = Remember to relax (relaxation & mindfulness strategies)
I = I can try my best (changing unhelpful to helpful thinking)
E = Explore Coping Step Plans and strategies for finding helpful solutions (choosing thumbs up actions instead of thumbs down actions)
N = Now reward yourself for trying your best (choosing interpersonal rather than material rewards)
D = Don’t forget to practice (choose to use the FRIENDS skills and give back to the community)
S = Stay calm (values based role models and support networks)
Specific skills that are taught are based on the following principles:
Our full school staff has completed Friends Resilience training and is now a Licensed Partner; we rolled out delivery of the Programme in our school in September and are already seeing superb results!
Where we are with Friends Resilience?
We know that 2020 has been a strange and peculiar time for all pupils at Stamfordham. The COVID-19 pandemic has been really tough for our children (and for you at home) and that many of them (and you) were anxious about the return to a more ‘normal’ way of life. We wanted to ensure that on returning to school and our ‘new normal’, our children were supported to develop the skills needed for them to manage and prevent anxiety, and go on to become confident and thriving individuals. The children have looked forward to the weekly Friends Resilience session and have participated in various activities both at home and at school, creating a bank of new skills which they can use and rely on in different situations. We have seen such a positive response to the programme and will continue, throughout the year, to refer back to the skills we have learnt in autumn, to support children as they continue to develop confidence and self-belief.
From the children…
“Learning relaxation techniques! I have been able to work through friendship issues by using different breathing methods to calm me down and think of solutions.”
Martha from Class 4
“I have learnt how to create a coping step plan to help me with tasks I find tricky at school.”
Courtney from Class 3
“I have enjoyed learning how to change my red thoughts into green thoughts and how I can use bubble breathing to feel relaxed.”
Charlie in Class 2
“How to be a kind friend and look after your friends, you can use your green thoughts too!”
Jack from Reception.
Please do continue to use FRIENDS Resilience strategies at home. To help, there is a wonderful, new ‘FRIENDS’ app which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (it’s not available for android devices at the moment). It’s definitely worth looking at and gives lots of activities and topics for children to discuss. With many thanks as always for your wonderful support.
Every Mind Matters-
Public Health England’s new mental health campaign to support children and young people and their parents and carers
Stop, Breathe, Think-
My life- app available with a version for kids and one for adults.
Friends Resilience App found in Apple App Store. This app supports all strategies and techniques used within Stamfordham to support children with their mental health.
Please see Miss McKinney/Miss Snowball for any support
Families can access some rather excellent, introductory Friends Resilience training materials, led by Miss McKinney and Mrs Gilbert, using the links below:
An intro to the Friends Resilience programme for families - Part 1
An intro to the Friends Resilience programme for families - Part 2