University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

A review of self compassion as an active ingredient in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression in young people

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 13:45 authored by Egan, SJ, Rees, CS, Dalande, J, Greene, D, Grace FitzallenGrace Fitzallen, Brown, S, Webb, M, Finlay-Jones, A
Previous meta-analyses have found higher self-compassion is associated with lower anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of self-compassion as an active ingredient in the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression in youth. This was conducted through (i) a systematic review of the literature and (ii) qualitative consultation with young people and researchers in self-compassion. Fifty studies met our inclusion criteria. Eight studies evaluated self-compassion interventions among youth aged 14-24, and the remaining studies measured the association between self-compassion and anxiety, and/or depression among this age group. Qualitative interviews were conducted with four self-compassion researchers. Interviews were also conducted in two rounds of consultation with 20 young people (M age = 18.85 years, age range 14-24 years). Higher self-compassion was related to lower symptoms of anxiety, r = - 0.49, 95% CI (- 0.57, - 0.42), and depression, r = - 0.50, 95% CI (- 0.53, - 0.47). There was evidence for self-compassion interventions in decreasing anxiety and depression in young people. Consultation with young people indicated they were interested in self-compassion interventions; however, treatment should be available in a range of formats and tailored to address diversity. Self-compassion experts emphasised the importance of decreasing self-criticism as a reason why self-compassion interventions work. The importance of targeting self-criticism is supported by the preferences of young people who said they would be more likely to engage in a treatment reducing self-criticism than increasing self-kindness. Future research is required to add to the emerging evidence for self-compassion interventions decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression in young people.


Publication title

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research








School of Psychological Sciences


Human Sciences Press

Place of publication

New York

Rights statement

© Crown 2021.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Determinants of health; Mental health; Adolescent health

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania