Youth Work Ireland in association with its local member youth service, Carlow Regional Youth Service, has taken the lead in addressing youth anxiety by launching the national roll out of FRIENDs.
The programme takes the form of 10 weekly CBT sessions of one hour, with two booster sessions recommended at 4 and 12 weeks after programme completion. The sessions provide children and young people with opportunities to understand how feelings affect behaviours; learn relaxation techniques; recognise and understand different emotions; learn how to change negative thoughts into helpful thoughts; develop problem solving skills and coping skills and build the support of teams. There is a structured manual for both the children and youth versions which specifies the goals of each session and gives advice on delivery.
The FRIENDS programme comes with a wealth of empirical literature that supports its effectiveness and efficacy. Most notably the programme has been endorsed by the WHO (2004) who states that ‘FRIENDS’ is the only anxiety intervention that ‘appears to be efficacious across the entire spectrum, as a universal prevention programme, as a targeted prevention programme as a treatment’ (p.43).
Provision and implementation:
The Friends Programme has been piloted and adapted in youth work settings by Carlow Regional Youth Service. Funding for the programme licence has been provided by the National Youth Health Programme. Ongoing support for the national roll out, training, promotion and development of the Friends Programme is provided by Youth Work Ireland.