Qualitative exploration of a targeted school‐based mindfulness course in England

McGeechan, G. J. et al. | Qualitative exploration of a targeted school‐based mindfulness course in England | Child and Adolescent Mental Health | published 27 June 2018

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness‐based training has been shown to provide benefits for adults with numerous conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, and depression. However, less is known about its impact for young people. Early adolescence (typically 10–14 years) is a time fraught with challenges such as cognitive changes, social, and academic pressures in the form of exams, all of which can provoke anxiety. While there is a lack of effectiveness studies, there is growing interest in the potential for school‐based mindfulness programmes to help young people cope with the pressures of modern life.

Methods

This study outlines a qualitative exploration of a school‐based targeted mindfulness course. We interviewed 16 young people who had taken part in a 10‐week mindfulness course, and held a focus group with three members of teaching staff who delivered the programme. Interviews and focus groups were analysed using applied thematic analysis.

Results

While young people felt that they had to take part, once they started the programme they enjoyed it. Young people felt that they learned a range of coping skills, and it had a positive impact on their behaviour. However, the targeted approach of the intervention could lead to young people being stigmatised by their peers. Teaching staff could see the potential benefit of mindfulness courses in schools but felt there were some barriers to be overcome if it were to be implemented in the long term.

Conclusions

Young people were willing to engage in mindful practice and felt it better equipped them to deal with stressful situations.

Advertisements

Playfulness in boys viewed negatively by teachers in study

Science Daily  | April 2018  | Class clowns: Playful boys viewed more negatively than playful girls, study finds

New research from America has found that playful boys are viewed more negatively by their teachers than girls with similar tendencies towards playfulness. According to the lead researcher,  educators perceived young boys (in grades 1, 2 and 3) as  ‘class clowns’ and viewed their behavior as  problematic (via Science Daily).

people-2594456_1920

The study tracked 278 kindergarten-aged children over 3 school years to investigate children’s, classmates’ and teachers’ views on playfulness. At the end of each academic year, the children rated their perception of their level of playfulness,  and self-perception of disruptive behavior and social competence.

The results show a gender difference in teachers’ attitudes towards the playful males, seeing them  as rebellious, intrusive and having poor social skills, and being labeled as “class clowns” by their teachers. This was in contrast to children’s own perception of their behaviour, and how they were regarded by their peers,  who initially viewed playful boys as appealing and desired playmates. Similarly, children in the study did not appear to view playful boys and girls differently, viewing them all as more attractive playmates to their less playful peers. Although this tendency dwindled as classmates perceptions of these boys  from  positive to increasingly negative. The lead author attributes this to playful boys being viewed as “boys who should be avoided or spurned.”

The full story is at Science Daily 

The research article can be read at Frontiers in Psychology 

 

 

 

The benefits of including structured music lessons in the curriculum

A Dutch study published in the Journal of Neuroscience finds that children who participate in structured music lessons have stronger cognitive skills and  (via Science Daily).

piano-606080_1920
The study looked at nearly 150 children across multiple Dutch schools that delivered arts education including a structured music programme. The programme was devised by the Ministry of Research and Education in the Netherlands in conjunction with an expert centre for arts education.  The school children  were randomized across four groups: two music intervention groups, one active visual arts group, and a no arts control group.

The researchers followed up the children two and a half years later, assessing their academic attainment and testing their cognitive skills, including their memory and planning skills.  The children who participated in the structured classes outperformed their peers who did not, with significant cognitive improvements. The children who accessed visual arts classes also showed significantly improved visual and spatial short-term memory compared to students who had not received any supplementary lessons.

Abstract 

Background: Research on the effects of music education on cognitive abilities has generated increasing interest across the scientific community. Nonetheless, longitudinal studies investigating the effects of structured music education on cognitive sub-functions are still rare. Prime candidates for investigating a relationship between academic achievement and music education appear to be executive functions such as planning, working memory, and inhibition.

Methods: One hundred and forty-seven primary school children, Mage = 6.4 years, SD = 0.65 were followed for 2.5 years. Participants were randomized into four groups: two music intervention groups, one active visual arts group, and a no arts control group. Neuropsychological tests assessed verbal intelligence and executive functions. Additionally, a national pupil monitor provided data on academic performance.

Results: Children in the visual arts group perform better on visuospatial memory tasks as compared to the three other conditions. However, the test scores on inhibition, planning and verbal intelligence increased significantly in the two music groups over time as compared to the visual art and no arts controls. Mediation analysis with executive functions and verbal IQ as mediator for academic performance have shown a possible far transfer effect from executive sub-function to academic performance scores.

Discussion: The present results indicate a positive influence of long-term music education on cognitive abilities such as inhibition and planning. Of note, following a two-and-a-half year long visual arts program significantly improves scores on a visuospatial memory task. All results combined, this study supports a far transfer effect from music education to academic achievement mediated by executive sub-functions.

 

Full reference:
Jaschke, A.C, Henkjan, H.,   Scherder, E. J. A. | 2018  |  Longitudinal Analysis of Music Education on Executive Functions in Primary School Children | Frontiers in Neuroscience | Vol. 12 | DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00103
The full article may be read and downloaded from Frontiers in Neuroscience here 

Effectiveness of school-based mental health services

Broad evidence now supports the potential of school-based services delivered by teachers and other school-based professionals to help reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | via ScienceDaily

school-design-1727586_1280

Teachers and other school-based professionals can help reduce children’s mental health problems in elementary-aged children, reports a study published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services. The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.

In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behavior problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems, or substance use. Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Sanchez, A. L. et al. | The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis |  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | 2018; 57 (3): 153

‘Depression education’ effective for some teens

In an assessment of their ‘depression literacy’ program, which has already been taught to tens of thousands, researchers say the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program achieved its intended effect of encouraging many teenagers to speak up and seek adult help for themselves or a peer. | ScienceDaily | American Journal of Public Health

Objectives. To determine the effectiveness of a universal school-based depression education program.

Methods. In 2012–2015, we matched 6679 students from 66 secondary schools into pairs by state (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oklahoma) and randomized to the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP; n = 3681) or to a waitlist control condition (n = 2998). Trained teachers delivered ADAP as part of the health education curriculum to students aged 14 to 15 years. The primary outcome was depression literacy. Secondary outcomes included mental health stigma and, in a subset of the sample, the receipt of mental health services. Follow-up was at 4 months.

Results. ADAP resulted in significantly higher levels of depression literacy among participating students than did waitlist controls, after adjusting for pretest assessment depression literacy (P < .001). Overall, ADAP did not significantly affect stigma (P = .1). After ADAP, students approached 46% of teachers with concerns about themselves or others. Of students who reported the need for depression treatment, 44% received treatment within 4 months of ADAP implementation.

Conclusions. ADAP is an effective public health intervention for improving depression literacy among students.

Read more at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Swartz, K. et al. | School-Based Curriculum to Improve Depression Literacy Among US Secondary School Students: A Randomized Effectiveness Trial | American Journal of Public Health |  2017; 107 (12): 1970

Transforming children and young people’s mental health

Ways for schools and colleges to support pupils’ mental health are set out in a green paper, as well as plans for new mental health support teams.

The government has published proposals to improve mental health support for children and young people in England. Over £300 million has been made available to fund them.

The government is asking people for their views on the planned measures, which are set out in a green paper. The measures include:

  • encouraging every school and college to have a ‘designated senior mental health lead’
  • setting up mental health support teams working with schools, to give children and young people earlier access to services
  • piloting a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services

Other proposals in the green paper include:

  • a new working group to look at mental health support for 16 to 25-year-olds
  • a report by the Chief Medical Officer on the impact that technology has on children and young people’s mental health, to be produced in 2018

The consultation on the green paper will run for 13 weeks until 2 March 2018.

Full document: Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper

This short video describes the main proposals in the green paper.

New research shows the benefit of bullying interventions in schools

Study explores the long-term social and economic impact of effective bullying interventions implemented in primary schools.

pexels-photo-256395

MQ: Transforming Mental Health have published a report which finds that the implementation of evidence-based school bullying interventions could prevent over 24,000 cases of bullying each year.  This would significantly improve the mental health of thousands of young people, and save the UK economy £348 million per year group. This represents a  return on investment for £146 for every £1 invested in implementing a proven model.

The economic model uses data from the 1958 Birth Cohort on outcomes associated with childhood bullying to estimate the potential short- and long-term benefits of effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

The report highlights that with such clear evidence pointing to the link between bullying and mental illness, it’s vital that schools receive support from both the government and public funding to rollout evidence-based schemes to tackle it.

Full report: The Economic Case for Prevention in Young People’s Mental Health: Bullying Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) | London School of Economics and Political Science | MQ: Transforming Mental Health