Disseminating, applying and advancing mindfulness research to promote the wellbeing of young people.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute of Psychological Sciences

Abstract

Adolescent wellbeing in the UK is amongst the lowest from 35 countries worldwide.[13-15] Poor mental health is associated with physical ill health, risky health behaviour [16] and school absenteeism.[17] Epidemiological and psychobiological studies indicate that promoting adolescent wellbeing can powerfully mediate the effects of stress and psychosocial adversity on health and economic outcomes.[16, 18] Improving adolescent wellbeing in the UK is now a national priority with urgent calls for cost-effective, evidence-based, whole school interventions that help all young people to develop habits of mind and behaviour to both build resilience to everyday adversity and to flourish emotionally.[16, 19-22] UK schools have a statutory duty to deliver a curriculum that promotes the EWB of young people, and over 70% of secondary schools implement the SEAL programme. This programme is a "loose enabling framework" to promoting EWB with schools encouraged to adapt implementation to local need.[2] MBA show significant promise in promoting wellbeing and delivering on SEAL objectives.[3-7] Mindfulness is an attention-based practice which promotes awareness and regulation of one's thoughts and feelings in ways that prohibit depressive rumination on the past and fearful anticipation of the future.[8] Substantial evidence indicates that MBA promote wellbeing among adults [9-11, 23-24], and exploratory studies suggest they may also be effective for young people.[8,25] Exploratory school based studies of the effects of MBA on EWB have produced promising findings, but to date these studies have been small, with unrepresentative samples.[3-7] Randomised controlled trials cannot be conducted until we have a fit-for-purpose, whole school programme, suitable for end-users whose EWB is poor. We therefore need to deepen our understanding of anticipated beneficiaries and the implementation context if we are to successfully promote the application of MBA to (hard-to-reach) young people within the SEAL programme.This creative, user-led project will build a collective understanding with users and stakeholders of if, and how, MBA can be implemented in schools to promote pupil wellbeing. We will explore organisational and policy influences, and develop routes to impact. We will identify user and stakeholder priorities for future trials of effectiveness and establish international knowledge exchange mechanisms to sustain partnerships beyond the life of the project. Past achievements by the project team, and their existing partnerships, underwrite the project's potential to deliver on its objectives. This project will involve young people (in an Apprentice Researcher Team) and stakeholders from the outset and they will inform each of the nine project strands. With permission, we will film aspects of the project as a 'fly on the wall' documentary, aiming to capture the process by which a collective understanding has been generated. Following professional editing, this documentary will constitute a powerful, cost-effective tool for dissemination, dialogue and impact. Otherstrands promote dissemination, dialogue and co-production of knowledge with stakeholders and beneficiaries and include: synthesising existing knowledge for dissemination; establishing a Network for collaboration and communication; placements to understand applied context, organisational climate and policy frameworks; an art exhibition by young people to represent understandings of wellbeing and stress; a workshop for users and stakeholders; a Network website with tailored content (including podcasts) for different users; hosting an national conference for the launch of the International Mindfulness in Schools Network. Evaluation of project process and outcomes will be conducted in multiple ways, including participant feedback, website hits and downloads, attendance of policymakers at the final conference, new partnerships formed and number of publications targeting non-academic audiences.

Planned Impact

Direct beneficiaries of this work are young people (11-18 years), school communities (teachers, head teachers, classroom assistants, pastoral teams), a local council (Children and Educational Psychology services), the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), policymakers, the co-funding charity and researchers in mindfulness and whole school approaches to wellbeing.
1. Young people will benefit in diverse ways. Fifteen young people (15-18yrs) will form the project's Apprentice Research Team. They will: receiving training in committee roles and user involvement; be offered mindfulness training and practice; be invited to university events including research open days; with undergraduates acting as mentors; learn about MBA, engage with researchers and stakeholders, and inform the creative aspects of the project (e.g. documentary, website, exhibition and pod/vodcasts). We hope to excite this group of young people about research, raise their aspirations and hope they will benefit from seeing the ways in which they can use and shape research. A separate constituency of young people who practice mindfulness will be invited to communicate their experiences on the project website; we know of young people from the UK, USA, Germany and Egypt who are keen to do this. Such contributions will engage a global community of young people in dialogue about well-being and MBA. A third group of young people (11-18 yrs) who live locally to the project, will have the opportunity to contribute representations of wellbeing and stress at a multi-media exhibition. This group will benefit from having their artistic skills recognised and rewarded and from opportunities to work with Leeds Metropolitan Schools of Art and a graffiti artist; with permission, work would be hosted on the project website whose global reach will expand the pool of beneficiaries and promote international dissemination and user engagement.
2. Council services for young people (Children's Services and Educational Psychology Services), head teachers and other school staff will benefit by learning about MBA and links to wellbeing, and its potential fit with SEAL. These stakeholders will benefit by shaping knowledge on how MBA could be implemented in schools, thus sensitising future research to the needs of their organisations, schools, curriculum, classrooms and pupils. It may help to inform strategic objectives for council services who commission school programmes. Partnerships cemented during the project are likely to be deployed in future research, with opportunities for involvement in RCTs of the effectiveness of MBA in schools. The project website will have a knowledge back and resources for different users and will reach beneficiaries not directly involved in the project. The DVD will disseminate knowledge about implementing MBA to multiple users and stakeholders.
3.Policy makers will benefit from understanding and shaping the potential of MBA for promoting wellbeing. The Children and Young People's (CYP) Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Project (part of CAMHS) who are exploring new, evidence-based practices which can meet the mental health needs of young people will benefit , as well as the Mental Health Foundation who aim to support mindfulness for all.
4.The co-funding charity will benefit from the project as it meets one of their strategic objectives to invest in national and international mindfulness research.
5. Researchers will benefit from the establishment of an International Network for Mindfulness in Schools, from improved potential for later uptake of their research and international partnership, optimising the potential for future R & D investment.
 
Title Mindfulness in Schools: Media clip 
Description A short animated multi-purpose media clip explaining mindfulness, its relevance to young people and the research at the University of Leeds. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Published on you tube in January 2015, it has so far had 225 views. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfuqCj_7gR0&feature=youtu.be
 
Description The project aimed to disseminate research on mindfulness and to build understanding of how to design and implement next stage research in ways that aligned with guidelines on complex trials and which were relevant to end users.

Key findings were that:
- UK inner city secondary school staff and pupils and key departments relevant to children's services reported a significant need for whole school interventions to promote well-being and readiness to learn among young people.
- young people themselves were open to mindfulness and saw its relevance to managing stress, negative thoughts and attitudes, and interpersonal relationships. They demonstrated reasonable buy-in to a model of self-care to minimise risk of poor mental health now and later in adulthood, although there were developmental differences in understanding and appreciating the importance of preventative approaches to mental health. Some pupils found some aspects of mindfulness conceptually difficult.
- secondary school management teams (SMTs) were broadly interested in the potential impact of mindfulness practice on attainment, attendance and behaviour. Some schools place pupil social and emotional well-being high on the agenda and were interested in how mindfulness would impact emotional regulation and readiness to learn. Whether mindfulness could reduce self-harm, substance abuse and vulnerability to sexual exploitation was of importance to some schools. Pre-service and in-service teacher access to mindfulness programmes to prevent stress and burnout were also recommended.
- Children's Services, the Complex Needs Service and Public Health Services of Leeds City Council were motivated to see mindfulness programmes trialled in schools, and suggested ways in which it would complement existing universal and targeted services. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and schools' capacity to cope with mental health of young people is under strain. Local services emphasised the importance of support from SMTs, the need for non-stigmatising and whole school approaches to promote positive mental health.

Across the project, there was overwhelming support from stakeholders for (a) a cascading, whole school approach regardless of mode of delivery, and (b) teachers having access to mindfulness programmes.

Schools and services named the following as preferred primary outcomes in future research: emotional well-being, emotional literacy, staff stress, pupil behaviour, resilience, self-control, attainment, attendance, and pupil anxiety. Years 7 and 11 were identified as important starting points for a next stage trial.

Reported challenges are that:
(i) mindfulness is not a quick fix nor a fix-all programme, and there is a danger of its usefulness being subverted by rushed or partial implementation. Identifying the impact of mindfulness on pupils and teachers requires a commitment to longitudinal research.
(ii) there is a risk of mindfulness programmes being misused by some schools to seek outcomes for which there is currently little direct evidence (e.g. attainment).
(iii) it can be difficult to give pupils choice in whole school approaches.
(iv) some schools do not view pupil well-being as important in academic attainment.
(v) there is currently insufficient accountability on schools to show a non-stigmatising approach to supporting pupil and teacher mental health.
(vi) little is known about the most effective ways to secure parental support and whether this is crucial to good outcomes from mindfulness programs
(vii) well-being is often not a strategic priority and local services often need to invest in responsive rather than preventative approaches.
(viii) the ideal mindfulness program template has yet to be defined - return on investment is difficult to identify given multiple modes of delivery and dosage.
(ix) it is as yet unclear how to most effectively and appropriately build on existing international programs and evidence.
Exploitation Route The findings might be useful to :
- schools and school / child based services, in determining whether mindfulness programmes may be a suitable intervention for their community and for which outcomes.
- programme / intervention developers, in developing a whole school approach which targets the preferred outcomes of stakeholders.
- researchers, in knowing that schools have a preferred implementation for mindfulness programmes. A large trial is needed to explore the acceptability and feasibility of whole school mindfulness programmes, and for different outcomes around readiness to learn and mental health.
-policy makers, in understanding the needs of schools around the mental well-being of staff and pupils, in appreciating the acceptability of mindfulness programmes to these communities, and to support ongoing implementation of research of such programmes in schools. The findings also support the case for a new national survey of mental well-being among children and adolescents.
Sectors Education,Healthcare

URL http://medhealth.leeds.ac.uk/info/1318/leeds_mindfulness_research_group/340/mindfulness_in_schools_project
 
Description The aim of the project was to (i) build societal understanding of the research on mindfulness and elicit user views on how mindfulness might be effective in supporting the mental health of young people in schools and (ii) use the knowledge generated to design research that is feasible in schools and which addresses the priorities and key concerns of stakeholders. The project was successful in engaging stakeholders, both through one-to-one meetings (e.g with head-teachers), in sustained small group meetings (e.g. with teenagers) and in large consultations (e.g. with mental health and educational service representatives). We were able to build understanding of the potential of mindfulness in schools for these different groups and identified the priorities of next stage research as well how the work could inform policies around mental health support for young people. The work evolved by first building collaborations with local secondary schools, then via these, establishing relationships with groups of young people so that we could work effectively together, before making contact with key people in local education and mental health services. By consistently running events that were tailored to the interests of different stakeholders, we slowly built local interest and support for research in this area. In consultations with services, we listened carefully to their priorities, concerns and ways of working, and quickly began refining research plans to show that their input was influencing our practice. We then extended our reach and hosted an international conference to both learn from oversees work as well as to publicise the work in the UK. This international reach supported local reach, as there was representation of local schools and services at this conference, and exposure to the global approaches to mindfulness in education was inspiring. The project outputs have been used primarily to shape next stage research. Both education and mental health services strongly advocated establishing a robust evidence base for the potential of mindfulness in schools. The project was the platform from which a White Rose Consortium was developed. Through this forum, the findings have informed the development of two grant applications, in collaboration with local council and local schools. Findings of the project were also submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, where they considered the role of mindfulness in education. The evidence base presented there contributed to the establishment of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness in the UK. Locally, the relationships we established both with mental health services and charities has led to an invitation to contribute material on mindfulness to a new portal to mental health support for teenagers in Leeds.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

 
Description All Party Parliamentary Group on Economics and Well-being
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Informing Commissioning Decisions
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Northern Ireland Assembly
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Review of the evidence on mindfulness interventions for West Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description MRC Proximity to Discovery
Amount £12,599 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 12/2020
 
Description Studentships
Amount £18,000 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 02/2019
 
Description Leeds Clinical Commissiong Groups 
Organisation NHS Leeds CCG
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Sharing up-to-date research evidence on mindfulness for young people. Contribution to an online portal for mental health support to young people in Leeds.
Collaborator Contribution Leading the mindfulness elements of an online portal for mental health support to young people.
Impact MindMate has been launched and mindfulness for young people is included.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Place2Be 
Organisation Place2Be
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Exploring ways in which our research can be coupled with practice in order to produce outcomes relevant to school communities.
Collaborator Contribution Openness to exploring possible PhD studentships in order to build their charities' research capacity.
Impact Had discussed research collaborations but the charity began to focus in new directions
Start Year 2014
 
Description White Rose Consortium 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Department of Biomedical Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on this project's activities, the PI of the current award applied for and secured funding (January 2014) to develop a White Rose Consortium (WRC) (Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York) to capitalise on expertise for grant applications on mindfulness in education (to include economic evaluations).
Collaborator Contribution Partners contribute intellectually and by sharing data (e.g. pilot work). They host events and workshop which we jointly access.
Impact The consortium is multi-disciplinary and involves psychology (Leeds), clinical psychology (Sheffield), and education (York). Via the consortium, further partnerships have been established with (i) the Northern Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, (ii) Leeds City Council Complex Needs Service, and (iii) Place2Be (national charity for children's well-being in schools). Grant Applications: one to the MRC PHIND stream (January 2015, unsuccessful) and one to the ESRC (submission June 2016, unsuccessful). Papers: Emerson et al (in press) 'Teaching Mindfulness to Teachers: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis'. Mindfulness. Studentships: collaboratively preparing applications for WRC network studentship (deadline December 2015). Masters project underway drawing upon the collaboration with the Northern Center and the WRC.
Start Year 2014
 
Description White Rose Consortium 
Organisation University of York
Department Centre for Health Economics (CHE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on this project's activities, the PI of the current award applied for and secured funding (January 2014) to develop a White Rose Consortium (WRC) (Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York) to capitalise on expertise for grant applications on mindfulness in education (to include economic evaluations).
Collaborator Contribution Partners contribute intellectually and by sharing data (e.g. pilot work). They host events and workshop which we jointly access.
Impact The consortium is multi-disciplinary and involves psychology (Leeds), clinical psychology (Sheffield), and education (York). Via the consortium, further partnerships have been established with (i) the Northern Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, (ii) Leeds City Council Complex Needs Service, and (iii) Place2Be (national charity for children's well-being in schools). Grant Applications: one to the MRC PHIND stream (January 2015, unsuccessful) and one to the ESRC (submission June 2016, unsuccessful). Papers: Emerson et al (in press) 'Teaching Mindfulness to Teachers: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis'. Mindfulness. Studentships: collaboratively preparing applications for WRC network studentship (deadline December 2015). Masters project underway drawing upon the collaboration with the Northern Center and the WRC.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Apprentice Researcher Team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Over several meetings, we developed a better understanding of the ways in which young people conceptualise stress, who they see as possible sources of support and how they currently manage stress.

The outputs informed the key findings of the study as well as the short media clip. Some of the apprentice researcher team have become involved in talking to the press. Others have attended raising aspirations events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
 
Description Art Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Better understanding of the anxieties and stressors facing adolescents in inner city Leeds. Shared science on stress response and possible role of mindfulness in helping anxiety.

Winners invited to University of Leeds Faculty of Fine Art (to raise aspirations).
Understanding gleaned contributed to production of short media clip on stress and mindfulness.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Consultation Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The large consultation event prompted interest from schools, services and researchers.

The PI responded to all enquiries about how the research may be of benefit to a range of stakeholders. The PI was invited to a number of meetings at local council level, as well as to head office meetings for Place2Be (national charity for children's well-being).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Expert Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Documented the most pertinent research questions facing the field; reached consensus on priorities; detailed the barriers to conducting excellent research in the field.

Following the meeting, there have been attempts to publish the outcomes. However, the has been affected by the recent publication of similar papers. We continue to pursue opportunities to publish / disseminate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description HE Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Student research and writing on the relevance of mindfulness to the mental health of young people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description HE Education (Postgraduate) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Students more aware of the scientific basis for mindfulness and the complexities of implementing mindfulness interventions in complex settings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Interview with Times Educational Supplement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Media coverage of the project (ie the role of mindfulness in schools)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Pint of Science Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk based on the use of mindfulness in schools - part of the Tetley Pint of Science Festival May 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/
 
Description Presentation on student mental health day (University of Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Explaining how mindfulness can help with mental health difficulties. Asked to provide resources for people afterwards to follow up on.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description School Visit (Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Delivered two workshops in secondary schools to explain mindfulness and our research around it. Schools were keen to explore how they could sustain this kind of intervention in their schools - resources and guidance were provided.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School Visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Educational and taster sessions to school staff on mindfulness programmes for staff and pupil well-being.

Interest from schools in how to bring mindfulness into their schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Seminar Leeds City Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Attendees shared views on the relevance of mindfulness and the extent to which their service would be interested in exploring our research further.

Specific contacts were made with key people in the Complex Needs Service and Well-being service who wanted to get more involved in our work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014