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New report finds that mindfulness has little impact on adolescent mental health and wellbeing

14 Jul 2022|08:33

The results from the My Resilience in Adolescence (MYRIAD) project, funded by Wellcome, have established that mindfulness training does not improve mental health for school children. The study found that most pupils found the practice ‘boring’ and for some it made their mental health worse. The eight-year study, carried out by experts from Oxford University, Cambridge University, University College London, King's College London and a number of other institutions, involved more than 28,000 children aged 11-14, as well as 650 teachers from 100 schools across Britain.

While the studies said "preventing mental health problems in early adolescence is a priority", they questioned whether teaching mindfulness to all pupils was the best way to do that. "Mental health problems commonly have their first onset in adolescence, which is a period of heightened vulnerability associated with reduced attentional, emotional and behavioural regulation in the face of growing demands," the research said.

Interestingly, the study found that it did help some teachers to avoid burnout and it improved school culture around mental health, making staff more approachable and encouraging mutual respect. However, all of these positive impacts waned after about a year. Results have been published in 

Tamsin Ford, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, and co-investigator, said: “Our work adds to the evidence that translating mental health treatments into classroom curricula is difficult and that teachers may not be best placed to deliver them without considerable training and support. Another approach would be for mindfulness practitioners to work with students at risk of poor mental health or who express a particular interest in attending mindfulness training.”