Earlier this year a new mental health trial was launched in 370 schools across the country. The two-year scheme will teach children relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and mindfulness, in an attempt to help them navigate the increasingly pressured world around them. But it’s not just schools taking part in the trial that are turning to mindfulness as a way to better equip their students – so why is mindfulness taking off in classrooms, and can it really help?
Mindfulness is about bringing awareness back to ourselves and our surroundings. Being present in the moment and in tune with our emotions. People have been practicing mindfulness for generations, and there’s a growing body of evidence attesting to its benefits.
Research has shown that mindfulness can decrease anxiety, increase attention and improve our relationships – all of which could be of huge help to today’s students. By creating more emotionally supportive, focused classrooms, mindfulness is not only targeting mental health, it’s having a positive effect on cognitive outcomes too.
One school near Liverpool is taking this a step further. Located in an area known for gangs and gun crime, many children have been affected by the violence around them. The school now has a dedicated mindfulness programme to help the children cope, and the results have been astounding. One boy described how the breathing techniques he’s learnt have helped him forget about “all the scary stuff”. Academically, children that used to have panic attacks at exams are now thriving. It’s been so successful that the school has started to offer classes to parents too.
Last year, the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) trained over 2000 teachers nationwide. The charity aims to give young people, and those who care for them, the skills to work more positively with whatever comes their way. Through their mindfulness teaching, the organisation has witnessed real shifts in the mental health and wellbeing of the children they work with. For MiSP, it’s about giving everyone the chance to flourish, no matter what their circumstances – and it seems like mindfulness is helping to do just that.
To find out more, read this month’s blog post for our tips on making a more mindful home environment for your family.