Co-Founder of The FORCE Society for Kids' Mental Health refers to a sample workshop of the original BC FRIENDS For Life Parent Program - click here to watch the videos.
The BC FRIENDS Parent Program aims to support, educate and promote mental wellness for children, youth and families through the use of family-friendly educational resources, developed with parents who have lived experience, that empower families to practice and reinforce FRIENDS skills at home.
Through family-friendly resources, education and support, the BC FRIENDS Parent Program will empower parents and caregivers and improve the mental wellness of all children, youth and families. Anxiety can be made more manageable by using the program’s skills and resources; the entire family benefits from the information and skills in this program and stigma is decreased by normalizing anxiety.
Since 2004 the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)has funded and led the FRIENDS program as a universal anxiety prevention effort in support of two provincial mental health plans in British Columbia.
A 5-year provincial plan (2003-08), the Child and Youth Mental Health Plan for British Columbia, was the first of its kind in Canada and was developed to improve the mental health outcomes of children, youth and families in BC. As a result of this Plan, the FRIENDS For Life program was brought to BC by the Ministry of Children and Family development as an effort to strengthen child and youth resiliency while also reducing the risk and prevalence of anxiety.
A current provincial plan, Healthy Minds, Healthy People: A Ten-Year Plan to address Mental Health and Substance Use in British Columbia is currently underway in BC and includes a strong emphasis on children and families, prevention and early intervention using evidence-informed approaches and programming. The FRIENDS program is included in this plan as an example of a program that promotes social-emotional skill development and resiliency.
Program support, teacher training and student materials for use in classrooms is available to BC schools. We first began with the launch of the FRIENDS For Life program for grade 4 & 5 students in 2004, followed by the FRIENDS Youth program for grade 6 & 7 students in 2008, and more recently in 2011 the Fun FRIENDS program for kindergarten and grade 1 students came to BC.
MCFD partners with The FORCE Society For Kids' Mental Health to deliver the parent component of FRIENDS, including parent workshops, presentations and online resources, as an effort to extend the program’s reach to parents and educate them about anxiety and the FRIENDS program so the program’s skills could be further reinforced at home.
BC has become one of the top leaders of ‘large-scale’ FRIENDS programming in the world and MCFD holds a formal training license and partnership with Dr. Paula Barrett, program author and founder of Pathways Health and Research Centre in Brisbane, Australia. Many other partnerships with schools, families and community partners have developed over the years and the success of FRIENDS in BC has truly been a collaborative effort by all. Click here for some key highlights.
In addition to its commitment to preventing anxiety in children and youth, MCFD is implementing a strategic initiative to build on the strengths of its Child and Youth Mental Health services.
The FORCE Society for Kids’ Mental Health is a parent organization in British Columbia that advocates, engages, educates and supports parents and families regarding children’s mental health. In 2005, the F.O.R.C.E. advocated to have parents be involved in the FRIENDS For Life program and provide parents with further opportunities to learn the FRIENDS skills their children were being taught in the classroom, so that parents could reinforce the skills at home.
To date, there have been more than a thousand parents from all over the province who have participated in B.C. FRIENDS parent workshops, presentations and thousands more have utilized the online program.
We recognize the importance and value of parents' input and feedback. Parents are involved in the creation of the online B.C. FRIENDS Parent program at every stage of development, so their expertise and experience can be shared with other parents.
For more information:
Download 'MCFD and the FORCE Society Partnership' pdf
Download 'What is FRIENDS' pdf
Download 'FRIENDS in BC Schools' pdf
Download 'How to Help Get FRIENDS in My Child's School' pdf
For more information about BC FRIENDS Resources, FAQ's, and/or to view our downloadable library, click here
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