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Overview

Age From: 

6

Age To: 

11

Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students
  • Parents/Carers

Components: 

  • Component 2 : Social and emotional learning for students
  • Component 4 : Helping children with mental health difficulties

Issues: 

  • Emotional and Behavioural difficulties
  • Social and emotional skills
  • Internalising only (anxiety, excessive worrying etc)

Special Student Group: 

  • Lower socioeconomic/disadvantaged
  • Rural setting

Overview: 

The Aussie Optimism Program is a universal mental health promotion program for primary and lower secondary school students. It includes six components. The five school-based components include Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends (Years 1-2); Feelings and Friends (Year 3); Positive Thinking Skills (Year 4); Social Life Skills (Year 5-6); and the Optimistic Thinking Skills Program (Year 7-8). There is also a family-based component, entitled Aussie Optimism: A Program for Parents and Families.

Delivery By: 

  • Primary teachers and staff
  • Allied health professionals
  • Other

Aims: 

The aim of the Aussie Optimism Program is to promote mental health, and prevent depression and anxiety in children and to assist them in meeting the challenges and stresses of life, e.g., stressful life events, peer pressure, the move to high school and the changes associated with adolescence. There are four programs for primary school students, each developed to suit the varying cognitive and social-emotional abilities of students in primary school.

Implementation/Delivery

State/s Available: 

  • National

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

 

The Aussie Optimism Program was developed to provide skills and competencies to Primary School students that will enhance their mental health, coping skills and resilience.

There are four components for Primary Schools:

  • Feelings and Friends for students in year 1 and 2
  • Feelings and Friends for students in year 3
  • Positive Thinking Skills for year 4 students
  • Social Life Skills for students in year 5 and 6

Each of the Aussie Optimism Programs was designed to be run for approximately one hour once a week for ten weeks.

Implementation training is required and provides participants with the skills and knowledge needed to run the programs in class. The cost of training includes a training booklet, a Teacher Resource and one Student Booklet.

A Parent Booklet is also provided to participants of the Feelings and Friends workshops, while parent information sheets are provided in the Teacher Resource for parents of older students.

The Teacher Resources are comprehensive program implementation guides that detail the 10 learning modules, which sequentially build upon previous experiences.

Feelings and Friends (Year 1-2)

  • Module 1 - My Feelings
  • Module 2 - Feelings Change
  • Module 3 - Body Clues
  • Module 4 - Feeling Happy
  • Module 5 - Feeling Sad
  • Module 6 - Being Scared
  • Module 7 - Feeling Angry
  • Module 8 - First Aid for Feelings
  • Module 9 - Our Feelings
  • Module 10 - Being Friendly

Feelings and Friend (Year 3)

  • Module 1 - Feelings and Body Clues
  • Module 2 - Feeling excited and Proud
  • Module 3 - Feeling Happy
  • Module 4 - First Aid for Feelings
  • Module 5 - First Aid for being scared and worried
  • Module 6 - Being sad and angry
  • Module 7 - Other people’s feelings
  • Module 8 - Caring about people’s feelings
  • Module 9 - How to be friendly
  • Module 10 - Mad, Sad and Glad Solutions
  • Positive Thinking Skills (Year 4)
  • Module 1 – Planning for fun activities
  • Module 2 – Fear hierarchy
  • Module 3 – Identifying thoughts and feelings
  • Module 4 – The thought feeling connection
  • Module 5 – Helpful and unhelpful thinking
  • Module 6 – Looking for evidence and thinking positively
  • Module 7 – Changing negative thoughts
  • Module 8 – Negative thoughts and negative moods
  • Module 9 – Best, worst and most likely outcomes
  • Module 10 – Being positive

Social Life Skills (Year 5-6)

  • Module 1 – Introduction and feelings
  • Module 2 – Decision-making
  • Module 3 – Communication skills
  • Module 4 – Assertiveness 1
  • Module 5 – Assertiveness 2
  • Module 6 – Negotiation
  • Module 7 – Coping skills
  • Module 8 – Networks
  • Module 9 – Friends and families
  • Module 10 – Transition and review

A range of skills is taught in the program, including:

  • Identification of emotions in self and others
  • Learning the link between feelings and thoughts
  • Learning to develop an optimistic view of life
  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness and negotiation
  • Coping strategies
  • Social problem solving
  • Dealing with (family) conflict

The Program for Parents and Families is a self-directed program aimed at parents of children making their transition to high school. This program is available as a booklet for families and is introduced to families via newsletters and parent night talks, which are supplied to schools on an easy to use CD-ROM.

To encourage parent involvement, parent information sheets are included in the teacher resource book, such that teachers can photocopy and mail them to parents at the completion of each student module.

The programs may be universally implemented within a classroom, or targeted towards children who are at risk of developing depression, anxiety and other associated behavioural and educational problems.

 

Parent information is integrated in the Teacher Resource, and can be photocopied for parents. The Program for Parents and Families is a self-directed booklet with tips and strategies on parenting adolescents, which parents can work through independently.

 

Methods of Delivery

The programs may be universally implemented within a classroom, or targeted towards children who are at risk of developing depression, anxiety and other associated behavioural and educational problems.

Parent information is integrated in the Teacher Resource, and can be photocopied for parents. The Program for Parents and Families is a self-directed booklet with tips and strategies on parenting adolescents, which parents can work through independently.

Cost: 

The cost of the 1-day training workshops varies:

  • Feelings and Friends (combined workshop Y1-2 & Y3): $250
  • Positive Thinking Skills (Y4): $125
  • Social Life Skills (Y5-6): $150

Participants will be provided with training materials, a Teacher Resource and  a Student Booklet.

The Feelings and Friends workshop also includes two Parent Booklets, and the Social Life Skills workshop also includes a copy of the Program for Parents and Families booklet and CD.

Student Booklets for program implementation can be purchased at $10 each. Parent booklets also cost $10 each.

The Program for Parents and Families booklets can be purchased separately for $15 each, and the CD-ROM for schools costs $10. 

Program Specific Audience: 

KMP

Structured Sessions: 

4

Student Assessment Measures: 

1

Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 

Yes

Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 

Yes

Other Elements: 

Professional Development is compulsory for any person wishing to use the Aussie Optimism program with students. 1-day training workshops are offered regularly at Curtin University, and in local schools across WA, including Independent and Catholic Schools. Participation is not restricted. There are also limited training workshops in Brisbane, via Catholic Education.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Evidence of Effectiveness Rating: 

4

Evidence of Effectiveness Description: 

Multiple studies document positive behavioural outcomes at post-test, with at least one study indicating positive behavioural impacts at follow-up at least one year after the intervention ended.

Competency 1 : Self Awareness: 

4

Competency 3 : Self-management: 

4

Competency 4 : Responsible decision-making: 

4

Competency 5 : Relationship skills: 

4

Identified Theoretical Framework: 

Yes

Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

The Aussie Optimism programs are based on Martin Seligman’s theories on learned helplessness and positive psychology. The program incorporates Beck’s cognitive theory of depression, Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy principles and uses cognitive behavioural therapy principles.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 

No

References: 

Bishop, B. & Roberts, C. (2005). The process of embedding and sustaining mental health promotion programs in social contexts. Community Psychologist, 38, 14-16.

Johnson, J., Rooney, R., Hassan, S., & Kane, R.T. (2014). Prevention of depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescents: 42 and 54 months follow-up of the Aussie Optimism Program – Positive Thinking Skills. Front. Psychol. 5:364. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00364

Myles-Pallister, J., Hassan, S., Rooney, R., & Kane, R.T. (2014). The efficacy of the Enhanced Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program in improving social and emotional learning in middle childhood. Front. Psychol. 5:909. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00909

Quayle, D.M, Roberts, C., Dziurawiec, S., Kane, R.T., & Ebsworthy, G. (2001). The effect of an optimism and life skills program on depressive symptoms in pre-adolescence. Behaviour Change, 18(4), 194-203.

Roberts, C., Kane, R.T., Bishop, B., Cross, D., Fenton, J. & Hart, B. (2010). The Prevention of Anxiety and Depression in Children from Disadvantaged Schools. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 48, 68-73.

Roberts, C., Kane, R.T., Bishop, H., Matthews, H., & Thompson, H. (2004). The prevention of depressive symptoms in rural school children:  A follow-up study. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 6(3), 4-16.

Roberts, C., Kane, R.T., Rooney, R.M., Pintabona, Y., Baughman, N., Hassan, S., Cross, D., Zubrick, S., Silburn, S. (under review). A Randomised Controlled Trial of the Aussie Optimism Mental Health Promotion Program

Roberts, C., Kane, R.T., Thompson, H., Bishop, B., & Hart, B. (2003). The prevention of depressive symptoms in rural school children: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 622-628.

Roberts, C., Williams, R., Kane, R.T., Pintabonna, Y., Cross, D., Zubrick, S., & Silburn, S. (2011). Impact of a mental health promotion program on substance use in young adolescents. Advances in Mental Health, 10(1), 72-82. doi: 10.5172/ jamh .2011.10.1.72.

Rooney, R., Hassan, S., Kane, R., Roberts, C.M., Nesa, M. (2013) Reducing depression in 9-10 year old children in low SES schools: A longitudinal universal randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy 51 (2013) 845e854

Rooney RM, Morrison D, Hassan S, Kane R, Roberts C and Mancini V (2013) Prevention of Internalising Disorders in 9-10 year old children: Efficacy of the Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program at 30-month follow-up. Front. Psychology 4:988. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00988

Rooney, R.M., Morrison, D., Hassan, S., Kane, R.T., Roberts, C., & Mancini, V. (2013b). Prevention of Internalising Disorders in 9-10 year old children: Efficacy of the Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program at 30-month follow-up. Front. Psychol. 4:988. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00988.

Rooney, R., Roberts, C. Kane, R.T., Pike, L., Winsor, A., White, J., & Brown, A. (2006). The prevention of depression in 8-9 year old children. A pilot study. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 16(1), 76 – 90.

Tyson, O., Roberts, C., & Kane, R.T. (2009). Can implementation of a resilience program for primary school children enhance the mental health of teachers? Australian Guidance and Counselling Journal, 19(2), 116-130.

Author(s)/Contacts

Author(s): 

Associate Professor Clare Roberts, Dr. Rosie Rooney

About the Author(s): 

Clare Roberts now retired, was a clinical psychologist with extensive experience working with children and adolescents. Clare was the clinical director at the Psychology Clinic at Curtin University and taught units on developmental psychology, child clinical psychology, child and adolescent psychotherapy and rehabilitation and disability. Clare was also involved in a number of advisory committees including beyond blue, Triple P, and the WA Curriculum Council.

Associate Professor Rosie Rooney is the originator of the Positive Thinking Skills and the two Feelings and Friends Programs. Rosie is a Clinical Psychologist who works in areas such as postnatal depression, adult anxiety and depression as well as working with childhood anxiety and depression. She is the clinical director of the Clinical Psychology at Curtin University and teaches professional practice and health psychology to Masters students. Rosie also has a special interest in cross-cultural psychology, and has received grants aimed at preventing internalising disorders in children in the early and middle primary school years. She is the treasurer for the State Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society as well as the acting state chair for Health Psychology.

Contact Information: 

Program enquiries:

Dr Shari Hassan, Research Coordinator for Feelings and Friends and Positive Thinking Skills

Email: S.Hassan@curtin.edu.au

Phone: +61 8 9266 3463

 

Natalie Baughman, Research Coordinator for Social Life Skills
Email: Natalie.Baughman@curtin.edu.au
Phone: +61 8 9266 2757

Associate Professor Rosie Rooney, Program Co-Director
Email: R.Rooney@curtin.edu.au

 

Program material, training and professional development

Name: Nethalie Coswatte

Address: Curtin University, PO Box U1987, Perth, WA6845

Phone: 9266 2465

Fax: 9266 2464

Email: nethalie.coswatte@curtin.edu.au; Aussie.Optimism@curtin.edu.au

Website: https://healthsciences.curtin.edu.au/teaching/psych_aussie_training.cfm