Day 85 (of 183) friends for life #blog4mh
I think I was one of the lucky ones. Our district, then our school and finally my classroom, was chosen to be a pilot group for Friends for Life – a research based program on anxiety & coping skills fresh from Australia. I was lucky because we got to learn from the first trainers in BC also fresh from Australia. And it linked ideas to help students recognize their body cues (and others cues as well) to help identify signs of stress and anxiety.
What I really appreciated was a year later when I overheard a student using the same language that she learned the year before. She had a lot of early markers for generalized anxiety but this early intervention definitely had an impact (positively) on her learning journey!
What helps most is that Friends is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – the number one approach to use with anxiety (as effective as medication and when meds are blended with CBT counselling….that’s a powerful combo!). CBT helps identify body cues – both your own and reading others body signals (need to learn: “don’t poke the bear”). It helps to identify what they body is doing and why it is happening before we pass a tipping point (metaphor: if you ignore the oil light too long the engine ain’t gonna work well for long).
I appreciate the work that has gone into understanding what the different types of anxiety are and the mindfulness that while there are similarities there are also uniquenesses. Which is why I liked the initial training that allowed/encouraged us to tweak the booklet program to meet the needs of our learners. A loose-tite system of standardization and personalization – just what anxiety hates!! When used right, it works – it helps create mindfulness in students (heck – even myself) about anxiety awareness.
Because reminders are always handy when working with mental wellness, here are some key connections from the guideline manual: