'FRIENDS Resilience' are a set of social skills and resilience building programs for children and youth, some of who may already be experiencing anxiety. It has been proven to reduce anxiety and give participants the tools they need to cope in stressful and challenging situations. They also help to develop social skills, an ability to focus, self confidence and the ability to relax and regulate emotions.


Developed by Dr Paula Barrett in Australia, it has been recognised by the World Health Organisation for over 12 years of comprehensive research and as an effective means to prevent anxiety for children and youth. 

Each FRIENDS workshop is made up of five sessions, with each session taking between 2 and 2.5 hours depending on the activities chosen by the facilitator. The number of sessions may increase depending on how participants respond. The workshops are divided up into four age groups below:

'Fun FRIENDS': 4 to 7 years old.

Guides the social and emotional development of children aged 4 to 7 by using fun, play-based group activities. The workshop nurtures a child’s development by teaching them to engage resilience early on, encouraging them to thrive and smoothly transition into school life.

'FRIENDS for Life': 8 to 11 years old.

Provides the tools for 8 to 11 year olds to cope with the concepts of setback and adversity which are often new to their age group. It also improves their social and emotional skills, ability to focus, confidence and the capacity to relax and regulate emotions.

'My FRIENDS Youth': 12 to 15 years old.

Empowers early-teens to deal with stressful situations and to overcome new challenges that are common to their age group. It does this by normalising the state of anxiety and teaching self-regulation by the “Emotion Thermometer” concept. It also develops self-confidence by arming participants with positive and creative strategies to problem solve challenges and setbacks. It has been proven to decrease anxiety and depression in adolescents.

Adults Resilience: 16 - 18+ years old

This program is ideal for students who may be dealing with a dramatic increase in pressure from school (or finishing high school), choosing a career, social lives, and home. This may lead to stress and anxiety about exams, relationships, and body image, among other things, which can lead to further experiences with anxiety or depression and limit their ability to thrive during this time. The Adult Resilience program equips participants with the skills necessary to rise to and overcome these challenges.

Cost: $690 per course or partial scholarship may apply.

To enquire about future course dates, please call: 09 846 9776

or email with reference to the age group:

Booking is essential.



To help participants of the workshops remember what they have leaned, the FRIENDS acronym was developed which stands for:

Feelings (talk about your feelings and care about other people’s feelings)
Relax (do “milkshake” breathing, have some quiet time)
I can try! (we can all try our best)
Encourage (step plans to happy home)
Nurture (quality time together doing fun activities)
Don’t forget – be brave! (practice skills everyday with friends /family)
Stay happy

FRIENDS for Life empowers participants to cope with their own emotions and those of others by engaging with positive thoughts, emotions, and self-regulation strategies. If you would like to find out more, please visit the FRIENDS Resilience website.



Families play an important role in the recovery journey of people experiencing mental illness. Whānau / Family can refer to anyone who supports or cares for a person experiencing mental illness. When someone you love is experiencing mental illness it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster and a challenge for you, your relationships and your family.


Acceptance, love and boundary setting can be pivotal in helping a loved one recover. Denial, disapproval, blame and judgement is likely to worsen the situation. As family / whānau there is a lot you can do to help. It’s important to keep your self-care as a priority in order do to your best for your loved one. 

We have outlined the main points to consider below. You can download a help-sheet with full details of each point:

 Practice Self-Care

 Resource yourself 

 Be patient 

 Stay in touch 

 Be persistently kind 

 Be positive 

 Start conversations and not conflict 

 Make sure you have resources 

 Find a support network and keep it active 

Help resources for parents, family and friends

Commonground – a website hub providing parents, family, whānau and friends with access to information, tools and support to help a young person who is struggling.

Parent Help – 0800 568 856 for parents/whānau seeking support, advice and practical strategies on all parenting concerns. Anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.

Family Services 211 Helpline –  0800 211 211 for help finding (and direct transfer to) community based health and social support services in your area.

Skylight – 0800 299 100 for support through trauma, loss and grief; 9am–5pm weekdays.

Supporting Families In Mental Illness –  For families and whānau supporting a loved one who has a mental illness. Auckland 0800 732 825. Find other regions' contact details here.



As part of a holistic approach to managing your experiences with anxiety, depression, OCD and phobia – maintaining healthy relationships, an intake of healthy food and regular exercise will create noticeable benefits and improvements to your ongoing mental state. We've outline a few points below, which may seem obvious at first, but it's worth reminding ourselves from time to time.


If you are in a relationship, a partner who understands your condition and supports you is vital. As always, discussions with partners regarding your condition should be approached as an open and positive conversation. Accept that often the people around you won't have a complete understanding of your symptoms or their causes. Education, information and patience will be your most powerful tools to help them help you. If your partner struggles to understand your condition, you can refer them to the section above on Whānau / Family, or they may wish to take part in one of our workshops for Whānau / Family. See more here.

Abusive relationships or partners who have substance abuse issues should be avoided if possible. If not, they should also seek help. Drug Alcohol Helpline: 0800 787 797

Shine, help for domestic violence: 0508 744 633

Diet / healthy eating

It may seem obvious to some, but a healthy balanced diet can have significant effects on your general mood and have a positive impact on your recovery. Fresh fruit and vegetables making up your 'five-a-day', fresh home cooked meals and healthy drinks will significantly help your recovery. An excess of fast food, fried food, high sugar content snacks, highly processed foods and alcohol should be avoided. If your diet currently contains many of these foods, try a healthier diet for just few days and you will likely experience a positive change in your mood and mental state. A guide to healthy eating as it relates to mental health issues can be downloaded here and is provided by


Often it can seem like the easiest most relaxing thing to do when you experience anxiety, depression or other mental health issues is to stay indoors, or lie on the couch with a film. But research has shown that even moderate exercise produces 'endorphins' – or in other words the brain's natural 'happiness' chemicals. 

Regular exercise at a level you feel comfortable with is important and can play a big part on your journey of recovery. Find an activity that you enjoy, which could be as simple as running, walking or tennis and you will soon notice the benefits. For more advice and information regarding exercise and mental health issues, you can download a PDF provided by



If you have child who is experiencing anxiety, try some of the breathing and action techniques below.


Fill a glass to halfway with water or your child’s favourite drink (we always encourage a healthy sugar free drink of water or milk). Place a straw in the glass and ask your child to take a deep belly breath (see Belly Breathing exercise for how to do this) and hold for 3 seconds, then blow into the straw slowly through their mouth. Repeat this 5 – 10 times (or as many as your child needs to feel less anxious).


Belly Breathing

Place on your child’s hands on their chest and one on their belly. Breathe in through the nose for half their age in seconds, hold for half their age in seconds and breathe out for their full age in seconds. This methods works well up to age 8. The structure would be: – 4 seconds breathing in, hold for 4s and out for 8. If your child or young person is over 8, use the following: – 4 seconds breath in, hold for 5 and breathe out for 8. (adjust this as per the needs of the child or young person).


Robots, Jellyfish and Towers

The aim of this game is to practice progressive muscle relaxation. You call out each of these names and your child mimics the behaviour of each one: – Robots, who are stiff and robotic in their movements. – Jellyfish, who are floppy and relaxed. – Towers, which are strong and stretch up high into the sky. The game begins with each person cycling through the actions a couple times. Try to keep mixing the order of the names up and ensuring there’s a jellyfish movement after the tense movements.