Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Young People
by Katherine Weare, Emeritus Professor, Universities of Exeter and Southampton
(Extracts by Padraig O’Morain)Two recent systematic reviews and twenty individual studies of mindfulness interventions with young people of school age, all with reasonable numbers of participants, have been published in reputable peer reviewed scientific journals. … The weight of evidence from these studies concludes that:
- Mindfulness for young people is easy to carry out, fits into a wide range of contexts, is enjoyed by both students and teachers, and does no harm.
- Well conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part. It has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, reactivity and bad behaviour, improve sleep and self-esteem, and bring about greater calmness, relaxation, the ability to manage behaviour and emotions, self-awareness and empathy.
- Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused, think in more innovative ways, use existing knowledge more effectively, improve working memory, and enhance planning, problem solving, and reasoning skills.
- … adolescents who are mindful, either through their character or through learning, tend to experience greater well-being, and … being more mindful tends to accompany more positive emotion, greater popularity and having more friends, and less negative emotion and anxiety.
- Mindfulness has also been shown to contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills in the young. When children and young people pupils learn to be more ‘present’ and less anxious, they often find they can pay attention better and improve the quality of their performance, in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the performing arts for example. They often become more focused, more able to approach situations from a fresh perspective, use existing knowledge more effectively, and pay attention.
The pdf of Katherine Weare’s article is here.
For more information on mindfulness in schools see www.mindfulnessinschools.org