Did you know that 50% of those with lifetime mental illness experience symptoms by the age of 14?
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest the urgency of finding preventative measures to counteract the growing scale of this problem.
This is something Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is working to do.
The charity, which provides mindfulness training to teachers, has launched its ‘A Million Minds Matter’ campaign, which pledges to reach one million schoolchildren within the next 5 years.
The courses are based on research in clinical psychology and neuroscience, and their impact has been affirmed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“We can apprehend and ascertain, through rigorous studies, the potential value that this (mindfulness) has,” Jon Kabat-Zinn said in his keynote address at the MiSP Conference 2018. “Because of children’s vulnerabilities and the effects of stress on the developing brain in childhood, it’s even more important to offer these kinds of practices to them than anywhere else … it has the potential to not only transform education but the younger generation as the future of the planet.”
‘A Million Minds Matter’ aims to reach out to disadvantaged communities, with the charity aiming to completely remove cost as a barrier to any schools who may benefit from MiSP tools and training, which in turn can improve mental wellbeing.
Mindfulness in Schools Project has been established for over a decade, and over 400,000 young people have already benefited from their tools and training, with over 4,500 teachers and educational staff trained through their programmes.
When taught properly, Mindfulness is an essential life skill, and MiSP’s programmes aim to provide a “lifelong toolkit for children and adults”, enabling individuals to flourish and to provide anchoring in challenging circumstances.
‘A Million Minds Matter’ has been launched during Self-Care Week 2018, an awareness week dedicated to building awareness and making self-care a lifelong habit.
The slogan for this year is “Choosing Self-Care for Life”, which reflects the ethos of MiSP as their programmes are not a quick-fix which can solve all manner of mental health problems, but rather a process of teaching and equipping children with a life skill they can return to time after time.
With recent studies showing ‘Over three quarters (79%) of teachers have reported experiencing work-related anxiety’, these issues are not just limited to schoolchildren, but also those who care for them. MiSP’s programmes ensure teachers are trained thoroughly in mindfulness before they begin delivering the sessions in their classrooms.
As Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT has pointed out, “High quality education cannot be delivered by stressed and anxious teachers.”
Despite the fact 1 in 4 children show some evidence of poor mental health, children are often unable to access the necessary support at the right time. ‘A Million Minds Matter’ looks to provide preventative skills to children before this crisis point and looks to improve the lives of a generation of children and young people.
Any teachers or those in the education sector who want to find out more about upcoming courses and Information sessions and how to bring mindfulness to your school, please visit the Mindfulness in Schools Project website.