FRIENDS for Life
FRIENDS for Life is a social skills and resilience building intervention for children aged 8-11. The intervention is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and aims to reduce anxiety and depression and promote positive mental health by providing participants with the tools to rise to life’s challenges and make the most of setbacks and adversity. FRIENDS for Life also aims to improve participants’ social and emotional skills, ability to focus, confidence and the capacity to relax and regulate emotions.
The structure of the intervention is a 10-12 week course that can be delivered to whole classes, or as a targeted intervention for children with anxiety disorders or those identified as at risk. The sessions are timetabled during the school day and cover topics including emotional self-management and recognising anxiety.
The FRIENDS interventions are Australian developed. There are FRIENDS interventions for other age groups including Fun FRIENDS; ages 4-7, My FRIENDS Youth; ages 12-15 and Adult Resilience.
Professional development/ Training
Friends Resilience offers training to teachers and education professionals who wish to deliver the FRIENDS interventions in their own setting. Licensees undertake retraining every three years to update their knowledge regarding innovations in the field.
In order to run the FRIENDS intervention, you need a facilitator manual and provide an activity book for every child. The resources are only available as electronic books and some individual activities and resources can be printed.
A FRIENDS game app is available, the games cover content which reinforces the concepts learnt in the FRIENDS intervention through a fun, interactive medium.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) carried out an evaluation of FRIENDS for Life, exploring the impact on English and Maths attainment.
The study found no evidence that FRIENDS for Life improved Maths and English outcomes or reduced anxiety. Pupils eligible for free school meals experienced a small increase in self-rated anxiety and depression, although these results may have lower security than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils.
The EEF study only ran for 10 weeks, for this reason the
evaluation has not been included in the E4I evidence rating. For maths and
reading, studies of less than 12 weeks are not included on E4I, to avoid brief,
artificial laboratory studies.