How to Manage Your Child’s Anxiety Webinar


Are you are a parent of a child aged 7 plus, this webinar is for you. You will get practical skills to help manage your child’s anxiety with additional downloadable resources you can use at home.

You will learn:

  • What is Anxiety?
  • Why Learn about Anxiety?
  • What is worry?
  • Understanding why your child’s worry and anxiety is a  good thing and not to be avoided.
  • Why children need to learn about managing anxiety.
  • Practical skills to help children control and manage anxiety.


Michelle O BrienMichelle is a fully qualified and accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist.  She established her private practice in 2014, where she is dedicated to providing professional, safe, accessible high-quality care to all her clients. Michelle’s main interest lies in early intervention, helping children before the problem arises. She believes it is imperative to lay a foundation of self-belief, good values, and self-worth in children. This led to her involvement with Buddy Bench Ireland, in which she has developed mental health well-being online programmes. These programmes teach the value of emotional intelligence to aid children to become kind, empathic adults in later life.
With the unprecedented arrival of Covid 19, and the closure of schools, the Buddy Bench Team looked to delivering their programme in a new way – helping parents and teachers to teach children these invaluable life lessons by ways of a parental online short course, parental webinars, and Children’s Mental Health CPD for teachers.


Join us on Monday evening March 29th at 7 pm for one hour with time for Q&As.

Hosted by

Michelle O’Brien BSc(Hons)Psych; H.Dip. Coun; MIACP

Registration is €20 which includes downloadable children’s resources for you to use at home.

Sorry but this Webinar is SOLD OUT, we will be hosting additional dates next month


Children's Mental Health

children's mental health

Buddy Bench Ireland

We believe the ‘whole-school’ approach is aspirational but cannot be scaled at the moment due to curricula overload and lack of specific social and emotional training.

It demands too much of the school, presenting challenges regarding timetabling, specialised teacher training and extra administration.[1]

Rather than being the driver of a holistic approach, the school should be at the centre of a community effort[2].

Buddy Bench Ireland offers school-based child-led positive mental health programs – innovative, original and engaging – that promote emotional resilience and mental well being through supporting the core competencies of empathy, creativity, self-awareness and communication.

Each program comprises of:

  • A physical Buddy Bench, installed in the school playground;
  • A 45-60 minute workshop delivered by our facilitators in the classroom;
  • An interactive, unique Activity Book for each child containing a comprehensive set of creative activities that the child can explore in their own time, at their own pace;
  • Teacher’s Resource Pack that outlines the thinking and practice behind the program’s design and how it aligns with the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘7 Core Competencies’ and the HSE and Dept of Health’s ’15 Protective Factors’, which structure the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) element of the primary school curriculum.
  • Resource for parents

This is a universal early intervention[3] for positive children’s mental health that seeks to promote a culture of self-expression, listening, tolerance, resilience, and mutual support.

Through supporting core competencies of empathy, creativity, mindfulness and communication, and promoting a child-led culture, we are empowering a generation of children to create a world where it’s OK – i.e. normal, natural, easy and fun to express yourself.[4]

We don’t overburden the school administration, nor do we add to teachers’ workload; on the contrary, our research is evidencing how we lighten teachers’ load by resourcing children to problem-solve socially at a peer-to-peer level.[5]

Our external team of trained professionals deliver our children’s mental health programs.[6]

It is easy for a school to timetable a single workshop per class per year.[7]

The Buddy Bench remains on site as both a visual reminder of the program learning’s, and also a ‘safe space’ to spend time with friends and family and to develop a positive self-image[8]

Children continue to work with our workbooks in class and at home. Parental engagement is proving to be a key factor in promoting positive children’s mental health.

Through our social media activity we engage parents and communities on the importance of supporting children to build their own resilience and emotional wellbeing.[9]

[1] “The biggest challenges to implementing children’s mental health promotion programs in schools are: funding, timetabling, programme fidelity and achieving full participation from all stakeholders” [Spotlight. Well-Being: promoting mental health in schools. (2012) Oireachtas Library and Research Service]

[2]Schools not only provide formal education, but are also places that foster personal development and well-being” [Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 5(603), 1-20]

Schools are increasingly considered to be important settings for children’s mental health promotion and intervention” [Merikangas, K. R., Nakamura, E. F., & Kessler, R. C. (2009). Epidemiology of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 11(1), 7-20]

[3]early intervention and prevention are critical in order to prevent a negative downward spiral of poor mental health and well-being into adolescence and adulthood” [Costello, E. J., Egger, H. L., & Angold, A. (2004). The Developmental Epidemiology of Anxiety Disorders. In T. H. Ollendick & J. S. March (Ed.), Phobic and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: A clinician’s guide to effective psychosocial and pharmacological interventions (pp. 61). New York, NY: Oxford University Press]

[4] “These school-based children’s mental health interventions (e.g. mindfulness, social and emotional skills programmes) may be delivered as part of a universal preventative approach, which offers the potential to enhance the lives of all children” [Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. (2013). Flourishing across Europe: Application of a new conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110(3), 837-861]

[5] Ongoing evaluation with Centre for Mental Health and Community Research ( at Maynooth University

[6] “educating students about mental health requires specific skills and training” [Power, M., Cleary, D., Fitzpatrick, C. (2008). Mental Health Promotion in Irish Schools: A Selective Review.. Quoted in Spotlight. Well-Being: promoting mental health in schools. (2012) Oireachtas Library and Research Service]

[7] “At a practical level, one of the biggest challenges schools face in mental health promotion is organisational, as implementing these programmes requires timetabling and extra administration” [Power, M., Cleary, D., Fitzpatrick, C. (2008). Mental Health Promotion in Irish Schools: A Selective Review.. Quoted in Spotlight. Well-Being: promoting mental health in schools. (2012) Oireachtas Library and Research Service]

[8] “According to a consultation with teenagers on mental health, among ‘what helps’ was having a ‘safe space’ to spend time with friends and family and to develop a positive self-image” [Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(2009) What helps and what hurts]

[9] “a holistic perspective recognises health and well-being as arising from the interactive roles of the environment and the individual whereby the environment ranges from the immediate social setting (e.g. family and friends) to the broader societal level” [Kok, G., Schaalma, H., Ruiter, R. A., Van Empelen, P., & Brug, J. (2004) Intervention mapping: protocol for applying health psychology theory to prevention programmes. Journal of health psychology, 9(1), 85-98]

Latest News

Buddy Bench Ireland launches Little Buddies Early Years program for Courage and Resilience. Aimed at preschool children preparing to transition into primary school

Transitions are a critical time for children’s growth and development. They provide an opportunity to not just survive change, but to thrive and grow from change. Facing such a challenge, with the right support behind them, children can develop resilience and resources of strength and courage that will stay with them their whole lives.

This insight is what has created the collaboration between Kilkenny Local Community Development Committee and Buddy Bench, one of Ireland’s fastest growing social enterprises offering learning resources to children for emotional health and wellbeing. This project, funded by Healthy Ireland, will see 24 Early Years settings in Kilkenny City and County receive the Little Buddies Program for Courage and Resilience.

Delivered by local Psychotherapist Michelle O’Brien, the program uses storytelling, roleplaying and creative activities based on Buddy Bench’s recently launched CarePack Sam Builds a Nest by Jeffrey Gormly:

Maynooth University’s ongoing evaluation of Buddy Bench programs is showing us that what children respond to are creative experiences that help them to integrate our insights into their own story about who they are and how they relate to others,” said Jeffrey.

“Resilience is about being able to feel your inner strength when you need to go outside your comfort zone and take on the challenges of growing into the world and finding your place,” says Michelle. “Just like the Robin in the story has to stand on the edge of the nest, gather his courage, and take off, so that he can fly high and find his own nest!”

Sam builds a nest for courage and resilience
Sam in his nest

“Children can feel challenged or overwhelmed by all kinds of experiences. Moving to big school, moving house, a change in family make up or a bereavement, even just strong emotional feelings can make us feel as if we are outside our comfort zone,” says Buddy Bench Co-founder Sam Synnott. “Seeing my daughter go through that is what inspired me to start Buddy Bench, and bring this kind of wisdom and safe support to all children.”

It’s this kind of safety that is at the heart of the Buddy Bench mission, which has recently been featured in the BBC World Hacks: People Fixing the World series on BBC World Service. BBC Reporter Dougal Shaw says:

“I began to understand why it feels like a mission. [Buddy Bench] see it as a way to help Irish society as a whole, a kind of early intervention, to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.”

This mission is what has enabled Buddy Bench to bring their programs to 40,000 children in over 260 schools and preschools throughout Ireland, a huge impact for a small social enterprise based in Kilkenny. Not only that, but since they were founded in 2016 by Judith Ashton and Sam Synnott, Buddy Bench have been award winners with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, KBC Better Ireland, Google Adopt-a-Startup and the National Startup Awards.

Sam Builds a Nest is illustrated by Ross Dillon of Cartoon Saloon sister company Lighthouse Studios, and comes beautifully packaged in a handprinted box. The CarePack is available at The Hub Thomastown, Designist Dublin, and online at

For more info or to book a Little Buddies workshop for your Early Years setting, contact or 0567702027 ,{t�[ ��