Mindfulness could reduce symptoms of stress and depression and promote wellbeing among school children, according to a new study published online by the British Journal of Psychiatry.
A team of researchers led by Professor Willem Kuyken from the University of Exeter, in association with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the Mindfulness in Schools Project, recruited 522 pupils, aged between 12 and 16 years, from 12 secondary schools to take part in the study. 256 pupils at six of the schools were taught the MiSP (Mindfulness in Schools Project)'s curriculum, a nine week introduction to mindfulness designed for the classroom.
The other 266 pupils at the other six schools did not receive the mindfulness lessons, and acted as a control group.
All the pupils were followed up after a three month period. The follow-up was timed to coincide with the summer exam period -- which is a potential time of high stress for young people.
The researchers found that those children who participated in the mindfulness programme reported fewer depressive symptoms, lower stress and greater wellbeing than the young people in the control group.
Encouragingly, around 80% of the young people said they continued using practices taught in MiSP's mindfulness curriculum after completing the nine week programme. Teachers and schools also rated the curriculum as worthwhile and very enjoyable to learn and teach.
Professor Kuyken said: "This is potentially a very important finding, given that low-grade depressive symptoms can impair a child's performance at school, and are also a risk factor for developing adolescent and adult depression."
Professor Katherine Weare, who has been instrumental in promoting the teaching of resilience in schools, said: "These findings are likely to be of great interest to our overstretched schools who are trying to find simple, cost effective and engaging ways to promote the resilience of their students -- and of their staff too -- at times when adolescence is becoming increasingly challenging, staff under considerable stress, and schools under a good deal of pressure to deliver on all fronts.”
The above story is based on the June 19, 2013 news release by the University of Exeter.