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Mindfulness: fad or winning formula?

The Government’s consultation on the green paper on Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision closed at the beginning of this month, and responses are being analysed. The mental health of our children and young people is now a huge concern. It is the bedrock of emotional wellbeing; if our minds are consumed by anxiety or depression, learning cannot take place, nor can our potential be achieved.

 

As a result, more educational institutions are taking an active role in promoting mental health and emotional wellbeing, and one of the most popular methods is mindfulness.

Mindfulness has its roots in Zen Buddhism but was developed scientifically by its originator, John Cabat-Zinn, now Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  His mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) dates back to 1979 and was an eight-week course of weekly group classes and a one-day retreat.  It has since been used extensively and now can be found  in hospitals, education centres and even military training facilities.

The essence of mindfulness is being non-judgementally present in the moment, allowing oneself to notice physical sensations, and particularly focus on breathing, and avoiding unnecessary mental activity especially that which leads to catastrophising. Body-scanning is often used as the first stage and involves focusing on the body and the breathing.

 

 

 

  • The growing popularity of mindfulness practice in educational establishments shows no sign of slowing down. The Wellcome Trust is working with 76 schools on a long-term research project on the effectiveness of teaching mindfulness in schools: https://wellcome.ac.uk/press-release/large-scale-trial-will-assess-effectiveness-teaching-mindfulness-uk-schools
    The £6.4 million research programme is being carried out by teams at the University of Oxford, UCL (University College London) and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, over seven years. The project started in 2015 and involves 76 schools and almost 6000 students aged 11-14, and includes the first large randomised control trial of mindfulness training compared with normal teaching.

 

 

More information and resources on mindfulness

 

 

 

 

 

  • More information on the Mindfulness in Schools campaign can be found here: https://www.mindfulnessfoundation.org.uk/

 

 

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