Mindfulness – the next part of our journey

mindfulness-title (2)Over the past 6 years we have been working with young people on programmes designed to challenge perceptions, create informed choices and build resilience.

Identifying and tackling Social Norms can make a measurable difference in terms of reducing risk taking behaviour among teenagers and adolescents. Understanding peer behaviour has enabled us to measurably tackle drinking, smoking and drug rates.

When it comes to emotional health and wellbeing however, a more subtle approach is often needed.

Here, resilience comes from helping young people to stay in the present and separating thoughts from facts. It comes from equipping them with the tools to make more skilful life choices in a controlled and rational way.

Recently we have been working with a number of key stakeholders to develop our latest intervention, known universally as Mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is essentially living in the present moment with a little bit of meditation.

Being aware of the present moment is both relaxing and refreshing, and makes life much more enjoyable. What is truly fascinating is that when practiced regularly, Mindfulness also alters the brain structure to increase grey matter and reduce the size of the amygdala, the alarm centre of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response. These results are achieved relatively quickly with regular practice of the techniques.

Social Sense Director Gary Lovatt explains:

“The new Mindfulness programme fits perfectly with the whole school approach we take to early intervention and prevention.

It is not just about sharing a set of techniques, the programme is about creating a whole approach to life. We can make life less stressful by being in the present moment with our daily activities and this can directly improve the relationship we have with ourselves and each other.”

How will impact be measured?

In the same way we measure the impact of changing peer perceptions, our pre and post survey highlights any key changes following the Intervention.

We measure happiness, satisfaction, feelings of safety and levels of self-harm.

Working with academics, we are keen to evidence improving patterns in emotional health and wellbeing alongside reductions in risk taking behaviour.

Currently in the final pilot stages, the Mindfulness Programme will be available to all schools from September 2015.

The R U Different? programme for the 2015-2016 academic year commences in June 2015.

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