Stirling Council Friends for life

Stirling Friends for Life Project


  • A cognitive behavioural (CBT) intervention designed to help children with significant emotional problems - anxiety, depression, self-esteem
  • CBT looks at the relationship between:
      • what children think
      • how they feel
      • what they do
  • Teaches children practical skills to:
      • identify anxiety-increasing thoughts and replace them with more helpful thoughts
      • identify anxious and negative feelings and learn how to manage them
      • learn to face and overcome problems rather than avoid them
  • The programme involves 10 weekly one-hour sessions with children plus 2 sessions for parents
  • Each child has an attractive workbook
  • Each session involves a warm up activity, review of the previous session(s), introduction to this week's topic, exercise, role-play, medium group discussion
  • FRIENDS leaders have a structured manual detailing the purpose, content and exercises
  • Based in cognitive behaviour therapy - the best-established and most effective psychological intervention available
  • Robust research evidence from rigorous school-based evaluations
  • Standardised, transportable programme with international recognition (World Health Organisation 2004)
  • Children like it
  • Effective in whole class delivery (Lowry-Webster et al 2001; Stallard et al 2007)
  • Effective in the longer term (so far up to 6 years) (Lowry et al 2003; Barrett et al 2006); effective when delivered by teachers or non-mental health personnel (Barrett and Turner 2001; Stallard et al 2007)


  • In our society, anxiety and depression are more prevalent than any other mental health problem
  • Suicide is the NUMBER 1 cause of death in Scotland's 15 - 34 year olds (Choose Life, 2006)
  • Obesity/early onset diabetes, anxiety and depressive disorders will be more prevalent in Western countries than any other health problem in the next 30 years
  • Anxiety and depressive disorders:
  • Anxiety disorders account for up to 20% of children and young people at any one time, with almost half requiring specialist mental health intervention (Bernstein and Borchardt 1996; Kashani and Orvaschel 1990)
  • Although studies indicate that cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective intervention for anxiety disorders, only one fifth of children with mental health difficulties receive intervention (Ford et al 2003)
  • Researchers, clinicians and governments have begun to consider ways in which programmes can be delivered to the wider population as a preventative approach to anxiety disorder


The Stirling FRIENDS FOR LIFE project is a prime example of this development.