Is Mindfulness The New Mathematics?

kids-in-school

Hundreds of schools in the UK introduce mindfulness as a new subject.

370 schools in Great Britain will be teaching Mindfulness to their students, as a part of a study that aims to combat mental health issues among youth today. This study brings the UK on board one of the largest trials in the world that explores what works to improve mental health and well-being in our society.

The government issued a statement via their website gov.uk stating that ‘hundreds of children and young people will learn how to use a range of innovative techniques to promote good mental health through one of the largest studies in the world of its kind.’ The statement also mentions that ‘children will benefit from mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.’

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said that ‘as a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children, while potentially making others worse.’ Mental health issues among children and young adults today are unfortunately on the rise, with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) claiming that 7.1% of children in the US aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety and 1.9 million children in the US have diagnosed depression.

Mindfulness is a brilliant tool for managing mental health issues by encouraging awareness of our emotions so that we are able to manage them in a more insightful, rational way, as well as encouraging us to return to the present moment which is often difficult to do when we are plagued with anxiety. Mindfulness has been proven to promote increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex (the area of the brain associated with positive emotion) and there is evidence showing that mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression as well as boosts overall wellbeing.

According to a 2015 article on The Huffington Post, mindfulness is revolutionizing mental health care and we are only just beginning to understand its benefits. It works on a neurological level by facilitating neuroplasticity – the creation of new connections and neural pathways in the brain, which has a long-term impact on our brains. This reaffirms the importance of teaching such an important subject to children and young adults in an attempt to implement the practice at a young age. The curriculum in schools has been long overdue an update and this seems like a wonderful step forwards. If you are a parent, I’d love to hear from you about whether you teach mindfulness to your children and if so, how do you go about it? Are you a teacher who teaches the technique in a school and if so, how do your students respond?

www.mindfulschools.org has some fascinating information and tips for introducing mindfulness within your school and also credits mindfulness with ‘the development of heartfulness’, which is ‘the intentional nurturing of positive mind states such as kindness and compassion’. I think this is something all the world could benefit from and it’s fantastic to instill this within the next generation during such formative years of their lives. I strongly believe that the world can only benefit from everyone having a mindfulness practice and I hope other countries follow suit!

Therapy: How To Get It When You Need It

Let’s face it- we could all benefit from counseling. Sure, there may be times when we feel as though we ‘need’ it more than others, but therapy is something that we have probably all thought of taking up at some point in our lives. Not only is it a wonderful, healthy way to process our experiences, but it helps us to heal and understand them too. Many people credit therapy as the very thing that gave them the confidence and clarity to make a huge life change, with countless people continuing counseling throughout their lives to maintain a healthy frame of mind. As many of you know, I have battled with depression throughout my life and I haven’t always sought help in those darker times, so we wanted to share this post for anyone who is struggling to remind you there are many options of help out there. 

We all know the immense benefits of speaking to a professional on a regular basis, yet so many of those seeking or needing counseling never actually start for a variety of reasons. I am fascinated and in awe of the amount of great resources out there for people needing support, so I wanted to share some of those with you by looking at the reasons people often avoid counseling and what you can do to overcome those issues.

1. Financial Hardship

Counseling services are known to be costly- however, you can still receive wonderful care at a low price or often even for free. There are many donation-based counseling centers around the world who can calculate a low per-session fee based on your income and pair you with the therapist they feel will be the best fit for you. Many of these centers also offer weekly support groups and drop-in sessions, so research your local counseling center for more information. In America, you can also dial 211 from any phone for a full directory of your local mental health and counseling services, as well as giving Mental Health America a call at 1-800-273-TALK. There is also an incredible global platform called IAMAlive, which is an online crisis network where all of its volunteers are professionally supervised, trained to help you in almost any situation and can help you find additional in-person resources as well. Volunteers come from and operate around the globe, and their online chat is just one click away, and there whenever you need it.

Alternatively, if you have health insurance, give your provider a call to find out whether mental health treatment is covered within your plan. If you live in a country that offers free healthcare, speak to your doctor about the mental healthcare options which may be available to you.

There is a great online counseling platform called 7Cups, which provides affordable online therapy from $33 a week at www.7Cups.com.

2. Lack of time

If you struggle to make it to a weekly or even monthly session, there are amazing online counseling services where you can speak to a trained therapist at your convenience, whenever and wherever suits you, simply by calling on your phone or from your laptop.

Some great websites are:

www.betterhelp.com

Better Help’s mission is to make counseling more affordable and accessible by providing licensed, trained and experienced therapists on the world’s largest e-counseling platform.

www.blahtherapy.com

Blah Therapy gives you the option to chat to people all around the world who may be going through something similar. Think of it as an anonymous, global support group at your fingertips.

www.talkspace.com

Talkspace matches you with a therapist who you can speak to anytime, anywhere using their Smartphone app or from your web browser.

www.regain.com

Regain is an online relationship counseling platform which provides convenient, discreet and affordable access to a licensed therapist.

3. Shame or fear

Although counseling is now much more common within our society, so many people often feel a sense of shame or embarrassment around the subject. If you can relate to this, know that all sessions are completely confidential unless the therapist feels you are in danger of hurting yourself or others. Counseling is a safe space for you and therefore only you need to know that you’re going. However, remind yourself that it is a courageous thing to start and you should feel a sense of pride for being brave enough to do it. You WILL reap the benefits.

If you need the reminder that it’s okay to get help, ReachOut (www.reachout.life) is a free social network that you can access on your smartphone, which provides a support network full of people who are struggling with similar issues. ReachOut offers communal options to talk to others about your problems or thoughts, as well as more urgent options to talk to someone. This is a great way to heal through community and realize you are not alone.

You may not find the right therapist right away, but definitely stick with it and know it’s okay to find someone else. I don’t have therapy all the time but I know that when I feel depression coming on, I ensure I get the help I need. If you or a loved one needs immediate professional help, there are countless helplines where you can speak to a professional at any time. This is a link to a great article with information on helplines you can call wherever you are in the world, so please know that support is always available and you are absolutely not alone.

Mental Health Hotlines Worldwide

Here are the numbers for some helplines in the US:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line

Text CONNECT to 741741

The Trevor Project

Call: 1-866-488-7386

Text: 1-202-304-1200

Social Media: TrevorSpace

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline

1-800-950-6264

You are not alone. You are loved. There is help and support out there for you when you need it.

Love,

Ione