The Research Is In

19 October 2016 Dr Addie Wootten, CEO, Smiling Mind

Our mental health is as important as our physical health. With three quarters of all mental health disorders emerging by the time a young person reaches 24 it’s clear that prevention and early intervention is important.

Our vision is to see mindfulness meditation on the school curriculum by 2020.

Why mindfulness? Just as we teach kids to eat well and stay fit to keep their bodies healthy, teaching children how to proactively care for their mind is equally important.

To help achieve our vision we set about to evaluate the impact of our school based program using a randomized controlled trial design.

Twelve schools, 1853 students and 104 teachers took part in our research.

The first step was to train the teachers. At each school we introduced the concepts of mindfulness and meditation to the teachers and asked them to practice mindfulness themselves for the next 5 weeks, with our app to guide them.

Next, we asked teachers to integrate mindfulness into their classes at least three times per week over an 8-week term, following our app for guidance. We also encouraged the students to use the app outside these times to practice the meditations.

The results of the research indicated that the program was beneficial for both students and teachers.

Teachers reported:

  • Improvements in sleep quality,
  • Improved concentration,
  • Enhanced wellbeing
  • Enhanced ability to manage and describe emotions
  • as well as significant reductions in distress and tension.

Students reported:

  • improvements in their sleep and
  • reductions in the experience of bullying and classroom disruptions.

Students more at-risk of emotional difficulties also reported:

  • improvements in emotional wellbeing,
  • reduced psychological distress,
  • enhanced positive wellbeing,
  • enhanced ability to manage emotions and
  • improvements in concentration.

We also found that mindfulness leads to engagement in learning and positive emotional wellbeing for students and the more students practiced the more benefits they experienced over time.

The Smiling Mind Education Program has the potential to change lives, build resilience and enhance learning. The success of the research provides strong evidence to support our vision - to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian school curriculum by 2020.

Our technology-based programs have the potential to reach all students across the country. In the next five years our aim is to see 10,000 Australian schools, 295,000 teachers and 4 million students accessing our programs and integrating mindfulness into their classrooms on a regular basis.

Together, we can create many smiling minds....

 

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