$40 million plan to address anxiety in kids

6 April 2022

Professor Vanessa Cobham from UQ's School of Psychology featured in The Sydney Morning Herald discussing new funding for the Fear-Less Triple P program.

The federal government will announce a $40.6 million grant to Triple P to provide all parents with free access to Fear-less Triple P online and Triple P Online resources.

Dr Cobham said the program taught that there were multiple ways of thinking about the same situation because anxiety and avoidance tended to go hand-in-hand.

“If a child is at the movie theatre and they see someone from school and wave to them and the child doesn’t respond, the stereotypical anxious interpretation of that situation is going to be ‘that person doesn’t like me’,” Dr Cobham said.

“Whereas there are many other ways of making sense of that friendship. Maybe that person didn’t hear me or see me wave.”

Dr Cobham said there had been a massive explosion in anxiety and eating disorders in young people.

“We’re living through a pandemic, there’s a war on the other side of the world that has implications for us, there’s a lot of potential threat around,” she said.

“That’s all pretty anxiety-provoking.”

Dr Cobham said anxiety was often overlooked in young people. However, it was a critical problem because it was a gateway disorder to other serious mental health problems, such as depressive disorders, substance abuse and suicidal ideation.

“If we can do something about anxiety and kids, then hopefully, we can head off a lot of other problems that tend to come up in adolescence and young adulthood.”

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