For children and teenagers who can’t stop or control their worrying – who constantly feel agitated, tense, restless or on edge – the world can seem like a lonely, scary and hopeless place. But effective treatment and support can help young people learn to manage and find relief from these distressing thoughts and feelings, and now, a new treatment option is available online that may make getting help easier.
The BRAVE program
BRAVE is a free, evidence-based, online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. Developed for children and teenagers aged eight to 17, it allows young people and their parents to seek support for anxiety in the comfort of their own homes.
The self-directed program uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques, a proven method for managing anxiety. It includes up to 10 sessions for children or young people to complete at their own pace, while parents can take part in a separate program to learn ways to help their children manage anxiety.
Parents can complete the program together with, or independently of, their child. Not everyone will need to do all sessions, and participants can come back at any time for refreshers.
The program, which has been trialled and evaluated over the past 13 years, was developed by a specialist team from Griffith University, The University of Southern Queensland and The University of Queensland, in consultation with UniQuest Pty Limited.
“The program is fun, interactive and can be completed at your own pace. All that young people with anxiety need to access the treatment program is a computer and the internet,” says Dr Sonja March, researcher at USQ .
“Trials and evaluation of the BRAVE program have shown young people who use it notice a significant improvement in their anxiety, and many are able to overcome their worries.”
Anxiety in children and teenagers
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman says parents should be aware of common triggers for anxiety in children or teenagers, which may include meeting new people, being away from home, performing in front of others, travelling on planes or current global events.
“We think (BRAVE) is a really worthwhile investment, because anxiety can make it hard for children and young people to cope with day-to-day life,” she says.
“If left undiagnosed and untreated, anxiety conditions can persist or worsen as children grow 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.”
“Not everyone across Australia has equal access to services, so this will be of great benefit to people living in rural and regional areas, as well families in metro areas.”