Abstract:Background: Previousresearch on mindfulness has indicated largely that mindfulness interventionprogrammes have promising potential for improving the youths overall mentalhealth and wellbeing, as well as improving their resilience to stress andanxiety and learning how to live in the moment. This report aimed to investigate whether mindfulness in schools affectschildren’s mental health and wellbeing.Method: Four 17-year-oldmale school pupils took part and were interviewed about the effects they feltthe mindfulness programme had on them, using semi structured interviews. Thedata was analysed using thematic analysis.Results: As a result ofthis the overarching themes were self-management, psychological benefits, thefuture, and academic improvements. Including subthemes of, improved sleep,better time management, increased self-control, increased happiness,relaxation, enjoyment and self acceptance. Discussion:Teaching mindfulness in schools does appear to have an impact in the children’slevels of stress, their academic abilities, their happiness, and their timemanagement. Introduction: Mindfulnessis the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and whatwe’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on aroundus.
In this investigation, it aimed to explore the effects of teachingmindfulness in schools and whether it had benefits to the involved children’smental health and wellbeing. A paper by Kuyken, Weare, Ukoumunne, Vicary,Motton, Burnett, Cullen, Hennelly and Huppert (2013) assessed the acceptabilityand efficacy of a school based universal mindfulness intervention to enhancemental health and wellbeing on a total of 522 secondary school students aged12-16. They concluded that their findings provide promising evidence of theprogrammes acceptability and efficacy. Finding that children, who participated,reported fewer depressive symptoms, lower stress and greater well being at thefollow ups.
Similarly, a meta analysis by Zoogman, Goldberg, Hoyt and Miller(2014) found mindfulness interventions with youth overall were found to behelpful and suggests that mindfulness appears to be a promising interventionmodality for youth. This corresponds with the findings from our investigationwhich suggests that all four of the participants did find mindfulness to be auseful intervention, that can be put to good use as and when needs be. Furthermore,Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz, and Walach, found in their systematic review and metaanalysis that mindfulness interventions in youths hold promise, specifically inrelation to resilience to stress and improving cognitive performance. This isin line with evidence found in our study, which suggests that the boys involvedfelt more relaxed, and had seen some academic improvements. Similarly, Weare(2013) found that when the .b programme is well taught and practiced regularly,it has shown to be able to improve mood, self regulation, self esteem, mentalhealth and wellbeing, positive behaviour and academic learning. This iscomparable with our findings in which one of the four boys found the practicehard to keep up once the programme had finished.
In addition, Johnson, Burke,Brinkman and Wade (2016) investigated the use of mindfulness in targetinganxiety, depression, and eating disorder risk factors and found that anxiety,depression, weight/shape concerns, and wellbeing were the primary outcomefactors and while acceptability measures were high, no significant improvementswere found for any outcome at post intervention or the 3 month follow up. Method:In this research a qualitative investigation was conducted, with asemantic focus and used inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke (2006)).The purposes for using an inductive approach are to condense extensive andvaried raw text data into a brief, summary format; to establish clear linksbetween the research objectives and the summary findings derived from the rawdata and to develop of model or theory about the underlying structure ofexperiences or processes which are evident in the raw data. Participants:Four 17-year-old school boys were interviewed in this research. All ofwhich consented to their data being included in the reports. Materials:The data were collected during semi-structured interviews conducted byan Oxford Brookes University researcher. The interviews were transcribedverbatim.
In this study, ethics were granted by Oxford Brookes University. Analysis:There are six phases of thematic analysis. These are familiarisingyourself with the data, generating initial codes, searching for themes,reviewing themes, defining and naming themes, and finally producing the report.In phase one, familiarising yourself with the data, the researcher wouldread and reread the data, making notes, in order to understand the wholepicture. In phase two, generating initial codes, the researcher would workthrough the data, identifying and coding units of data (see appendices 5, 6, 7and 8). Looking for detail, changes in meaning, person, topic, tense, andrecurring topics.
These codes are more numerous and specific than themes, butprovide an indication of the context of the conversation. The third step in the process involved searching for themes. A themecontains homogenous data, which is highly similar and coherent data, andheterogeneous data, which is highly distinct, and not overlapping. (Seeappendices 10). Relevant data extracts are sorted (combined or split) accordingto overarching themes. During phase 4, the researcher would review the themes. This wouldinvolve reading through the data that has been put into a theme or subtheme andthen collate into a table. Data within themes should cohere togethermeaningfully, while there should be clear identifiable distinctions betweenthemes.
(See appendices 11). Phase 5, defining and naming themes involved encapsulating the data.Theme names and clear working definitions that encapsulate the data and eachtheme in a concise manner are provided. Finally phase 6, is to produce the report. The analysis needs to betransformed into an interpretable piece of writing.
Results:Four overarching themes were found, namely, psychological benefits,academic improvements, self-management, and the future. The themes and theirsubthemes are illustrated in Table 1. Psychological benefits:One theme that was focused on was psychological benefits. Throughout thedata, from all four of the participants, many psychological benefits weredemonstrated. The subthemes for the theme psychological benefits are happiness,increased confidence, enjoyment, relaxation, and more positive.
HappinessThe subtheme of happiness describes how the participants found themindfulness practice to increase their level of happiness, “I just really think I am happy” (Chris) and “I was happy before, but I am happier” (Alistair). All participantsfound that the practice of mindfulness enabled them to segment and separatetheir worries and “be able to enjoymyself without thinking about things that need to be done” (Chris) and “it has enabled me to stop before I dothings, take a step back and think a bit more about it” (Dominic) which hasled to psychological benefits such as increased happiness, “I feel more confident, more happy”(Alistair). This shows that mindfulness appears to benefit participantspsychological wellbeing and happiness. Relaxation:The subtheme of relaxation describes how participants found themindfulness course benefitted them in ways that enabled them to relax more “I think it would make us all calmer” (Felix),suggesting that all other students should have the chance to learn mindfulness.
All four boys strongly agreed when asked whether all students should have thechance to learn mindfulness, suggesting that it gave them the ability to managetheir workload, giving them more time to relax in turn “It gives me more time” (Alistair). “I used to be really uptight about things” but now “I’m a bit more relaxed about things” (Chris).This demonstrates that the practice of mindfulness is a useful resource inenabling the students to relax and have more time to themselves. Enjoyment:The subtheme, enjoyment, outlines how the four boys found themindfulness course to be enjoyable “Ifound it quite enjoyable” (Dominic) and “I wish it had lasted longer” (Dominic).
This clearly shows thatDominic found the mindfulness practice enjoyable, however it might suggest thatit could have had longer lasting benefits had the course lasted longer. Itperhaps indicates that the boys have a newfound way of engaging with daily life”I’m really enjoying life at the moment”(Chris). The participants suggest that mindfulness is a useful tool as “you enjoy it and something that benefitsyou” (Alistair). The boys confessed that some of them used it as an excuseto get out of games sessions at school but in the end “really enjoyed all the sessions” (Felix).
Table 1: themes and sub-themesof the experimental effects of taking part in a school-based mindfulnessprogramme Discussion: In our investigation, the resultsshowed that the .b mindfulness programme did show to have positive effects onmental health and wellbeing, as well as academic improvements, and improvementsin levels of self-management, for example, time management, anxiety managementand more self-control. The results support much of the surrounding research,for example research conducted by Zenner, Herrnleben-Kurz, and Walach(2014), found mindfulness interventions in youth holds promise, particularly inresilience to stress. This is supported in our findings in which allparticipants found themselves to be more relaxed, largely as a result ofmanaging their time for efficiently. Therefore, a strength of the study is thatis that it did demonstrate that the .b mindfulness programme showed promise,and thus could be offered as part of a curriculum in schools in the future. However,one problem is that the majority of studies on mindfulness with youth engagegenerally healthy participants, recruited from schools.
The meta analysisconducted by Zoogman, Goldberg, Hoyt and Miller (2014) suggests that futureresearch might target youth in clinical settings and focus on symptoms ofpsychopathology. Himelstein, Hastings, Shapiro and Heery (2012) did investigatethe experience of 23 incarcerated male adolescents who participated in a 10week adapted mindfulness-based intervention. They found increased well-being,increased self regulation, an accepting attitude toward the treatmentintervention and an increase in awareness. This suggests that adaptedmindfulness-based interventions are feasible treatments for incarcerated youth andhave promising potential. A further limitation of many studies done onmindfulness in youth is that many existing studies are conducted on smallnumbers, with little use of random allocation or control groups, often relyingon self report, therefore there is perhaps a need for more robust studies tosupport exponential growth. One problem with the study is the issue ofreflexivity, my previous knowledge and biases towards mindfulness could haveinfluenced analysis, and other people with different prior knowledge ofmindfulness could interpret the data differently.
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