As the benefits of mindfulness meditation become better known it was really only a matter of time before a controlled study was carried out in schools in order to assess the effects.
Adolescence is one of the more unsettled periods of life and moodiness is commonplace. Unfortunately this can sometimes cause adults to dismiss important signs of depression. The importance of recognizing and intervening with the signs of mental ill health is gradually being taken more seriously in schools, universities and workplace settings. The earlier we recognize and learn to deal with the signs of anxiety and depression the better our chances are of heading off the downward spiral and the more resilient we become.
In the first study of its kind, five schools involving 400 students between the ages of 13 and 20 took part in a randomized controlled trial involving the use of an in-class mindfulness program. Students from the schools in Flanders, Belgium were organized into a test group, which received mindfulness training, and a control group where no training was given. All students completed questionnaires relating to anxiety, stress and depression symptoms before, after and at a six month follow up.
Before the study, similar numbers of students in both groups (around 20 percent) reported evidence of depression. After training differences began to emerge with 15 percent showing symptoms in the test group compared with 27 percent in the control group. This difference persisted six months after training.
The study provides evidence that mindfulness not only lead to a decrease in depression symptoms it also serves to protect against the development of symptoms.
University of Granada (2009, December 7). New mental treatment improves anxiety and depression in secondary education teachers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/12/091203091906.htm
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.