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Home / Health / Schools of thought: Can mindfulness education promote the mental health of children? | society

Schools of thought: Can mindfulness education promote the mental health of children? | society



C Children spend 10 minutes thinking about their thoughts and feelings. Some start by thinking about their feet on the floor while others focus on their breathing.

That's mindfulness. Lessons are becoming increasingly popular as an antidote to the stress of being a 21st-century adolescent in performance examinations, in social media, or the obsession of body images reported to even affect primary school children.

Children learn about their brains and how to deal with troubled thoughts ̵

1; to control emotions such as anger and anxiety. It is no longer head, shoulders, knees and toes, but amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

The latest NHS mental health survey of adolescents in 2017 shows that every eighth-aged to 19-year-old in England has a diagnosable mental health condition. The hospitalizations for anorexia have more than doubled in the eight years to 2017/18.

Stress is a known barrier to learning, and a growing number of schools are working to improve the emotional health of students through measures such as meditation, mindfulness, and care for first responders and miners in the field of mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation wants emotional well-being to be at the heart of the school's curriculum and has selected body image as the main theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week. Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, his deputy director, said his survey last year found that 47% of people aged 18 to 24 had stress in their body image that was overtaxed or unable to handle. "Social media has certainly played a role," he says. "Historically, the mirror has been the main driver of the perception of our image and how we thought others would have perceived us. Nowadays, almost 24 hours a day, young people are exposed to manipulated and heavily edited images, either in advertising or in photos of their friends.

Over the past five years there has been an increase in mindfulness organizations and companies that sell lesson plans and staff training in schools. But does it work?

Secondary school teacher Richard Burnett, who founded the "Mindfulness in School" project 10 years ago, warns of "quick fixes". "We are a charity created by teachers who want to teach kids how to best handle their thoughts and feelings and how to handle the roller coaster as a young person," he says, and another for junior classes. "It's about training your attention to see what's going on, and once you're aware of that, you can decide how you want to react, for example, to manage the amygdala, the part of the brain that recognizes fear

Emotional disturbances are on the rise, and we "We should teach our children and adolescents how to deal with stress," advises Lee Hudson, director of the Royal College of Paediatrics and the Child Health Department of Mental Health But should it be mindfulness? There are indications that the process could bring benefits to adults, he says. "[But] The evidence for children's effectiveness is not yet strong enough and we need more research, but some schools are doing it and children seem to enjoy it – and it is unlikely to do any harm. "





  ▶ First responders for mental health are being trained to Helping Kids Through the Emotional Highs and Lows of the School Day Image: gettyTeacher Helps Young Students in Class Activity



Mental health first responders are trained to guide children through the emotional highs and lows of the school day. Photo: Alto Images / Stocksy

The Ministry of Education is funding a large-scale project to identify the most effective ways to promote positive mental health in schools, carried out by the Evidence Based Practice Unit, a collaboration between the Anna Freud Center for Children and Families and UCL brain sciences. One of the five proven approaches is mindfulness.

"Many people are interested in mindfulness and do it in different ways, but there is not much evidence for implementation in schools," says program director Jaime Smith

Meanwhile, teachers at Cherry Tree Primary School in Basildon, Essex say that mindfulness lessons already make a difference. "Children aged eight to ten years in four classes do different exercises every day after lunch for ten minutes," says Pastor Kim Milsom. "Children have told us that mindfulness helps to calm them, and that they use it at home."

Experience: 'We need to equip them with coping strategies'

Tracey Ward, Deputy Headmistress at Stanley Grove Primary School Examines Their Work as a Registered Mental Health First Responder

Being a Mental Health First Responder means that you have been trained to recognize signs and symptoms and can "intervene early." If you have completed the Mental Health First Aid England training, you are more aware of depression and anxiety.

97% of our school's students speak English as an additional language and 57% of the population According to a report from last year, our region lives in poverty. For us, well-being is a priority and we want to ensure that our children, when in a life-long crisis, are equipped with the right coping strategies – those that are sustainable and that they can use in the future.

We have transformed our first aid stations into mental and physical health stations and we have trained first responders for mental health to be there during breaks and lunchtime. – this is a picture of an open case with a red cross on it. They write down what they need when they feel desperate, overwhelmed or anxious. The kids love this approach.

This week I was at one of the first aid stations when a child had an outbreak and came to me and said they were "overwhelmed". I told him to get his first-aid box out of the tray, and we discussed what he could do. Another child came to us because it was "busy" and we did the stress bucket activity. We discussed what makes the stress container full and what can be set up to empty some of the water.

We had a session with first responders for mental health in our sensor room for targeted children who need assistance.

Part of our approach is to promote physical activity to support mental health. One of our wellness activities is the daily mile marked on the playground. Every child from kindergarten to sixth grade walks, jogs or runs every day, and can do so with a friend or co-worker. We find that children are more open to their feelings outside of the classroom. Our ethos and our culture are warm and cheerful, and I think that has a lot to do with the importance we attach to mental health and well-being.


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