Social Sense recently concluded a successful 12 months project with local secondary schools and youth groups in Kent, addressing emotional health and wellbeing needs.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner provided funding to commission Social Sense’s Mindful Me Programme across 3 organisations with pupils and young people from 12 schools/colleges.
Mindful Me is a preventative mindfulness awareness programme for young people that introduces them to concepts which can develop skills for life promoting wellbeing, resilience, improved relationships, compassion, empathy and self-esteem.
It is supported by the Mindful Me App which contributes to the sustainability of the intervention and by a range of resources and insight which help to embed the culture of mindfulness approaches in schools and community settings.
All pupils and young people were invited to take part in the 2-hour interactive workshops; an Introduction to Mindfulness. Staff were also encouraged to participate in the sessions along with the pupils to act as positive role models.
This concluded the first part of the project, with the second part focusing on the Mindful Me app for sustainability.
Why was it funded?
The purpose of its use within Kent Police priorities was to develop mindfulness to help young people to respond rather than to react to situations, regulating emotions and therefore reducing incidents of anti-social behaviours and bullying and to reduce the impact of negative comments/actions on the self-esteem of vulnerable young people who may be bullied face to face or online.
The project started with all the schools completing a 15-20-minute baseline survey to assess their emotional wellbeing and levels of distress. Developed using Warwick Edinburgh and ONS standards, the questions cover a range of topics including levels of happiness, anxiety, self-harm, resilience and personal relationships.
Key findings from the baseline survey:
1) 81% said they worried (within the last week)
2) Only 34% rating their self-confidence 8 or above
3) 52% of the pupils who has self-harmed, had done so in the last few months
Social Sense then delivered 2-hour Mindful Me workshops to pupils and young people ranging from Year 7 (aged 11-12 years) to Year 12 (aged 16-17 years). 880 young people learned Mindfulness in a school-time environment; 44 young people received training in an informal weekend/holiday context, totaling 924 young people who received Mindful Me training plus 20 staff.
The session introduced pupils to mindfulness, which is simply paying attention to the present moment in a compassionate and non-judgmental way. Pupils learnt useful tools and techniques to help them reduce stress and anxiety, and create happiness using the latest findings in neuroscience known as ‘hard-wiring for happiness’.
“I really enjoyed the Mindful Me session, especially breathing exercises and mindful eating.”
Pupil, Knole Academy, Kent.
“I will take time in my day to be more mindful especially when stressed.”
Youth Mentor, My Trust.
In summary, our findings show that many pupils found the group sessions beneficial and some have continued to use the techniques learnt. Young people were feeling confident in themselves, happier and resilient. There was also a decrease in the pupils worried about the future.
The Mindful Me app will be accessible to all young people involved in the project, Easter 2019.
For more information on the project, please click here.
By Reece Hobson.