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What is My FRIENDS Youth Resilience Programme?

The My FRIENDS Youth Resilience Programme aims to help students become confident, lifelong learners and supports the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. It is designed for students aged between 12 and 15 years. The programme was developed by Dr Paula Barrett, the founding director of Australia’s Pathways Health and Research Centre.

Common mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, often appear first during adolescence and can have a serious effect on students’ behaviour, learning, and achievement. All students need to develop strategies to prevent the escalation of anxiety, which, if left untreated, can lead to depression.

My FRIENDS Youth is based on extensive research into the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation. It has been shown to help build students’ resilience – their ability to overcome anxiety and to cope with difficult and challenging situations.

The programme is being trialed with year 9 students in 31 schools as part of the health curriculum or similar.

What is involved?

My FRIENDS youth is run by specially trained teachers within each school as part of the health education programme. It consists of 10 sessions, some of which are run over more than one lesson.

  1. Introduction – understanding what the My FRIENDS programme is about
  2. Feelings – being aware of your own and others’ feelings
  3. Friendship and confidence
  4. Relaxation and mindfulness – being aware of yourself, others, and your environment
  5. Inner thoughts – turning unhelpful thoughts into helpful ones
  6. Using “self-talk” to challenge unhelpful thoughts
  7. Exploring solutions – working out a “coping step plan”
  8. Problem-solving – a five-step plan
  9. Handling conflict. Now reward yourself!
  10. Applying what you’ve learnt. Do it every day. Stay strong!

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