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Vol. 19. Núm. 1. 2013. Páginas 37-44

Preventing childhood anxiety and depression: Testing the effectiveness of a schoolbased program in Mexico

[La prevención de la ansiedad y de la depresión en la infancia: estudio de la eficacia de un programa escolar en México]

Julia Gallegos1 , Sylvia Linan-Thompson2 , Kevin Stark2 , Norma Ruvalcaba3 1Univ. Monterrey, Mexico ,2Univ. Texas at Austin, Estados Unidos ,3Univ. Guadalajara, Mexico

Abstract

A growing number of school-aged children experience or are at risk for a myriad of psychological and behavioral problems such as anxiety and depression that interfere with their interpersonal relationships, school performance, and potential to become productive citizens -hence the importance of school prevention. This study assessed the effectiveness of the Spanish version of the FRIENDS for Life program [AMISTAD para siempre], a social and emotional program that uses cognitive-behavioral techniques to prevent anxiety and depression. Eight schools from a northern city in Mexico were randomly selected and assigned to either an intervention or standard curriculum instruction. Fifteen teachers implemented the intervention, and 16 served as control. Participants were 1,030 fourth and fifth grade students (ages 8-13). The impact of the program was evaluated immediately after the intervention and after 6 months. The program showed a positive effect by reducing symptoms and risk for depression and increasing the proactive coping skills of the overall sample. Suggestions for further research and implications for practice are offered.

Resumen

Un número elevado de niños de edad escolar experimentan o corren el riesgo de experimentar una serie de problemas psicológicos y de comportamiento tales como la ansiedad y la depresión, las cuales interfieren en sus relaciones interpersonales, el desempeño académico y el potencial para convertirse en personas productivas. El presente estudio evalúa la eficacia de la versión en español del programa FRIENDS for Life [AMISTAD para siempre], que enseña habilidades sociales y emocionales utilizando técnicas cognitivas-conductuales para prevenir ansiedad y depresión. Ocho escuelas de una ciudad al norte de México fueron aleatoriamente seleccionadas y asignadas a un grupo de intervención o al grupo de currículo estándar. Quince educadoras implementaron el programa y 16 maestras siguieron con el currículo estándar. Los participantes fueron 1.030 niños, de 8 a 13 años de edad, de cuarto y quinto grado de primaria. El impacto del programa se evaluó inmediatamente después de la intervención, y a los seis meses. Los resultados muestran que el programa tuvo efectos positivos al reducir los síntomas y el riesgo de depresión e incrementar las estrategias de afrontamiento proactivas de aquellos que lo recibieron. Se ofrecen sugerencias sobre futuras investigaciones así como sobre sus implicaciones para la práctica.

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