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Home > ‘FRIENDS for Life’: a school-based positive mental health programme. Research project overview and findings.

Henefer, Jean and Rodgers, Alish (2013) ‘FRIENDS for Life’: a school-based positive mental health programme. Research project overview and findings. Dublin: National Behaviour Support Service.

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‘FRIENDS for Life’ is a school-based positive mental health programme that promotes emotional resilience and reduces anxiety in children and adolescents. It is the only anxiety prevention programme acknowledged by the World Health Organization for its 12 years of comprehensive evaluation and practice (WHO, 2004). 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.

The findings from the research project demonstrated significant reductions in anxiety levels following the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme. Positive gains in young people’s emotional wellbeing, reported in previous Irish and international research, were confirmed by students and their parents in both universal and small group settings in post-primary schools geographically distributed across the Republic of Ireland. Before the programme, 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) following completion of the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ 10 session programme. Continued improvement has been recorded following completion of the two booster sessions four months later.

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