What did we do?

We did several studies, published in a series of academic papers. These studies involved more than 28,000 children, 100 schools, 650 teachers and 20 million individual points of data. The main findings are published in a special issue of the British Medical Journal – Evidence-based Mental Health.

This programme of research was based on the idea that, just as physical training is associated with improved physical health, mindfulness training is associated with better mental health outcomes. By promoting good mental health and intervening early, in early adolescence, we wanted to see if we could build young people’s resilience and help to prevent mental health problems developing.

In one of our studies, a large randomised controlled trial involving 85 schools and 8376 teenagers, we evaluated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a schools-based mindfulness training on risk-for-depression, social-emotional-behavioural strengths and difficulties, and well-being in 11-14 year olds. The mindfulness training was developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project. It was taught by school teachers, after they had first learned mindfulness for themselves and then attended a four-day training to teach mindfulness to students. We compared the mindfulness training to current standard social-emotional teaching in schools. We also explored whether mindfulness training had wider effects on teachers’ mental health and school climate (Kuyken et al., 2017; Montero-Marin, Nuthall, et al., 2021). Finally, we explored the challenges of offering mindfulness training more widely in schools, and what is needed to do this well (Montero-Marin, Taylor, et al., 2021; Wilde et al., 2018).