Smiling Mind focuses on happy school communities
Bringing meditation to the classroom in an effective and easy-to-implement way, is the goal behind the not-for-profit organisation Smiling Mind. With the general mental health of children and adolescents showing clear signs of deteriorating, there is renewed focus on taking a preventative approach to enhancing mental health.
With the goal to build individual mental health and wellbeing within schools, Smiling Mind has set a goal of having meditation included in the Australian curriculum by 2020.
While the benefits of meditation have been widely reported in the wider community in recent years, research conducted across 12 Victorian primary and secondary schools has shown the positive impact it can have on the entire the school community.
The large randomised study by Smiling Mind involved a mix of inner city, suburban and regional schools, with 1853 students and 104 teachers participating. The study measured the participants’ stress, sleep and wellbeing over the five week mindfulness meditation program.
Using baseline data and post-program data, the researchers were able to report that students who participated in the intervention reported significantly better sleep and an improved ability to cope with student misbehavior in their classrooms – compared to students who did not receive the program intervention. The research also demonstrated significant benefits for students’ overall mental health, engagement with learning and student safety
Measurable student outcomes after participating in the program included:
- Improved mental health - Student sleep, wellbeing, ability to manage emotions, concentration, and school behaviour significantly improved.
- Reductions in bullying and classroom disruptions - Students reported significant reductions in bullying and disruptive behaviour in the classroom.
- Students at-risk benefited the most - Students who experienced higher levels of emotional distress before participating in the program showed the biggest improvements as a result of the program.
Measurable teacher outcomes after participating in the program included:
- Improved mental health - Teacher sleep, wellbeing, distress, ability to manage, describe and accept emotions, tension and mindfulness all improved.
- Improved concentration and sleep - Teachers reported significant improvements in their concentration and the quality of their sleep after participating in the program.
The Smiling Mind program has been designed to be accessible and easily integrated into the classroom – with a range of programs tailored to each age level across primary and secondary school levels.
More information and full research results can be found at smilingmind.com.au