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Though official data is some way off, there is little doubt among those on the front-line that anxiety and depression have spiked during the current public health crisis. To help mitigate the impact on mental health, Iris Foundation has adapted its Connections programs to reach more local primary school children.The result is a new Connections 2×2 Workshop. The format is as follows:

  • Two 120-minute sessions held over consecutive weeks, during school hours
  • Three experienced Connections facilitators and a support teacher guiding around 20 students selected by the school
  • Each session includes a mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Week 1 session focuses on personal identity, skills, strengths and values
  • Week 2 session focuses on coping strategies, problem solving and gratitude

The first pilot program was hosted by Tuggerah Public School, with 16 students attending. During both sessions, the group was broken into groups of three or four to facilitate connection and make physical distancing easier. The three facilitators were on hand for guidance and encouragement, with several participants markedly more confident and engaged after both sessions finished.

At the end of the program, all participants reported feeling better and were able to identify something they learned. Some of their responses included:

“I am creative and a good drawer.”

“It’s OK to feel scared or sad sometimes.”

“I learned more about myself and what I am good at.”

“You can share problems and get help.”

The workshop format also allowed facilitators and support teachers to build trust with participants and identify those needing further support.

For more information about Connections, click here.

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