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!