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We report the results of a quasi-experimental study evaluating the effectiveness of the Mindfulness Education (ME) program. ME is a theoretically derived, teacher-taught universal preventive intervention that focuses on facilitating the development of social and emotional competence and positive emotions, and has as its cornerstone daily lessons in which students engage in mindful attention training (three times a day). Pre- and early adolescent students in the 4th to 7th grades (N = 246) drawn from six ME program classrooms and six comparison classrooms (wait-list controls) completed pretest and posttest self-report measures assessing optimism, general and school self-concept, and positive and negative affect. Teachers rated pre- and early adolescents on dimensions of classroom social and emotional competence. Results revealed that pre- and early adolescents who participated in the ME program, compared to those who did not, showed significant increases in optimism from pretest to posttest. Similarly, improvements on dimensions of teacher-rated classroom social competent behaviors were found favoring ME program students. Program effects also were found for self-concept, although the ME program demonstrated more positive benefits for preadolescents than for early adolescents. Teacher reports of implementation fidelity and dosage for the mindfulness activities were high and teachers reported that they were easily able to integrate the mindful attention exercises within their classrooms. Theoretical issues linking mindful attention awareness to social and emotional competence and implications for the development of school-based interventions are discussed.
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Several randomised controlled trials suggest that mindfulness-based approaches are helpful in preventing depressive relapse and recurrence, and the UK Government’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended these interventions for use in the National Health Service. There are good grounds to suggest that mindfulness-based approaches are also helpful with anxiety disorders and a range of chronic physical health problems, and there is much clinical and research interest in applying mindfulness approaches to other populations and problems such as people with personality disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders. We review the UK context for developments in mindfulness-based approaches and set out criteria for mindfulness teacher competence and training steps, as well as some of the challenges and future directions that can be anticipated in ensuring that evidence-based mindfulness approaches are available in health care and other settings.
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