We are mindful Creative interventions promoting positive mental health in children and young people (CYP)

Mental health problems in Children and Young People (CYP) can impact educational attainment and social relationships. One in ten children aged between 5 and 16 years has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. Rates of emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. There are excess costs associated with these problems, estimated between £11,030 and £59,130 annually per child. The statistics about children and young people's mental health and well-being clearly indicate the need for an early intervention.

Studies revealed that well-conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and well-being of CYP.

Mednet and One Day Creative have co-created a mindfulness programme ‘We are mindful’, encompassing the creative drama-based mindfulness workshops, supported digitally by a web-based solution for pupils that can be accessed via desktops, laptops and mobile devices, comprising of a friendly, dynamic and interactive experience, to promote positive mental health in CYP. The digital toolkit also equips the school staff to assess emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression in pupils using evidence-based screening tools. The digital solution allows interaction before and after the workshop, including consolidation of interactive mindfulness education, evidence-based rating scales and workshop evaluation. The architecture for this concept was originally co-designed with CYP, school staff, and registered mental health nurse. A qualitative survey conducted recently in various schools, generated an extremely positive feedback for our concept, indicating a strong evidence of demand and potential.

Mindfulness exercise

This programme was recently examined in a school pilot with the Year 4 pupils in a large diverse primary school based in Leeds. The main objectives of this pilot were - to measure and compare the change in level of mindfulness, before and after an intervention; and to assess possible emotional disorders.

An evaluation with thematic analysis of this pilot clearly indicated a positive change in the level of mindfulness and distinctly identified the emotional and behavioural problems in pupils, which were grouped into: - emotional difficulties, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviour.

Mindfulness Evaluation

We are enhancing the existing digital prototype to develop a full-fledged mindfulness service-model, which includes:-

  • Educating the school-staff and parents about the mindfulness intervention by conducting workshops, supported by e-Learning modules.
  • A digital toolkit for the school staff to access the mindfulness content and a web-based automated-evaluation-system that generates quantitative and qualitative evaluation reports.
  • Development of the programme to include issues such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Benefits to the pupils -

  • 'Mindfulness' techniques for understanding and managing anxiety and depression
  • Building mental health resilience
  • Expressing ideas and feelings through role-play and drama.

Benefits to the school staff -

  • Evidence-based-tool to consider the full-range of child’s behaviour
  • Decision-support-system, assessing mental health problems in pupils with clear-signposting; collect both baseline-data and subsequently to demonstrate the efficacy of any intervention.

Benefits to the parents -

  • A better understanding of what their child feels about their own emotional well-being
  • Involvement in behavioural-interventions in schools and assistance from school-staff

Evaluation data will also assist Health and Well-being Boards to review policies and CCG’s to commission evidence-based services.

“I believe that the workshop and the digital support were extremely beneficial for both the children and the teachers, despite the short time period of the course. As a teacher, I found the project extremely interesting, both during the actual workshop and from analysing the data. I will definitely be exploring these sensory techniques with other children I teach and encouraging the children involved in the workshop to use these techniques when necessary.”
“The workshop day itself was delivered with brilliant energy, leading to very high levels of engagement. Some of the techniques and sensory regulation methods explored were potentially very effective; since the workshop the children have been encouraged to use these techniques to be more mindful of their emotions The clear data and analysis proved to be very interesting, drawing attention to potential points of concern with children where issues are not so obviously apparent. The data will be very useful to fuel intervention work which could be very beneficial to the developing mind of the individual.”

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