May 29, 2104
A new free online program is available to help young people who are struggling with anxiety.
Known as BRAVE, the online self-help program is designed for young people aged between eight and 17, and their parents.
University of Queensland researcher Professor Justin Kenardy, who was part of the team who developed the program, said many children who had anxiety at an early age later developed chronic anxiety.
“It would be far better if they received an effective intervention early,” he said.
“Anxiety disorders are, after all, the most common mental health problem existing in Australia today.”
Research has found BRAVE to be as effective as face-to-face clinically based therapy for anxiety disorders.
“We know that from the work we have done that it is effective and we just hope that it reaches as broad a number of kids as possible,” Professor Kenardy said.
The program, which uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques, includes up to 10 sessions for children or young people.
Parents can also take part in a separate program to learn ways to help their children manage anxiety, and participants can return at any time for refreshers.
The program has received more than $500,000 in funding from mental health agency beyondblue.
beyondblue chief executive Georgie Harman said, if left undiagnosed and untreated, anxiety symptoms could persist or worsen as children grew into adults.
“Many anxiety symptoms go unrecognised by adults who come to believe, for example, that panicky feelings and constant worrying are part of their personality,” Ms Harman said.
“This (the BRAVE program) will be of great benefit to people living in rural and regional areas, as well as families in metro areas.”
It is normal for children to experience some anxiety, but if it persists for months or years, Professor Kenardy suggests it may need attention.
“If a child finds that their level of anxiety is starting to interfere with things that they would like to be able to do, things like school or school activities or simply doing the things that all kids do, then they should start thinking about doing something about it,” he said.
Home page photo: Rhiannon Shine