The FRIENDS emotional health program for minority groups at risk

Cristina A. Iizuka, Paula M. Barrett, Robyn Gillies, Clayton R. Cook, Debbie Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Despite the existence of evidence-based interventions for promoting mental health in children, the number of children at risk remains high. One of the reasons is that such interventions are not reaching specific groups at risk such as low socioeconomic status and ethnic minority groups. This study evaluated an adaptation of a school-based psychosocial program for nonreferred students aged 11 to 12 years attending a multicultural school from a low socioeconomic status area. METHODS: The FRIENDS Program was adapted for a multicultural population. A quasi-experimental design was used, involving a pre/post-test, to evaluate the impact of the intervention on participants' outcomes on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Participants were divided into 2 categories ("at risk"/"not at risk") based on their scores in the SDQ at pre-test. Post-test data were collected to evaluate the overall effectiveness and acceptability of the program. RESULTS: Analyses showed significant improvement for the group initially identified as "at risk," with 30% of the students being no longer at risk after the intervention. Most students rated the intervention as being highly acceptable and useful. CONCLUSIONS: Adaptations to existing evidence-based programs for implementation with specific minority groups at risk represents a promising approach to promote emotional health in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Mental health
  • Non-English-speaking background
  • School-based intervention
  • Universal intervention


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