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October 19, 2016

We’re serious about the success of our mindfulness in education program in Australian schools, so we put our approach to the test.

In 2016, independent researchers evaluated the Smiling Mind program. This was one of the largest research programs worldwide evaluating a technology-assisted mindfulness meditation program in schools.

Researchers from Deakin University and InsightSRC surveyed 12 schools, 104 teachers and 1,853 students to assess the impact of the Smiling Mind mindfulness program.

Here Smiling Mind CEO, Dr Addie Wooten, provides the incredible highlights of the results achieved with the recent study "Establishing an evidence base for the Smiling Mind Education Program".

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Our mental health is as important as our physical health.

With three quarters of all mental health disorders emerging by the time a young person reaches 24 it’s clear that prevention and early intervention is important.

Our vision is to see mindfulness and meditation in education on the school curriculum by 2020.

Why mindfulness in education?

Just as we teach kids to eat well and stay fit to keep their bodies healthy, teaching children how to proactively care for their mind is equally important.

To help achieve our vision we set about to evaluate the impact of our school based program using a randomised controlled trial design.

Twelve schools, 1853 students and 104 teachers took part in our research.

The first step was to train the teachers. At each school we introduced the concepts of mindfulness for teachers and meditation to the teachers and asked them to practice mindfulness themselves for the next 5 weeks, with our app to guide them.

Next, we asked teachers to integrate mindfulness for students into their classes at least three times per week over an 8-week term, following our app for guidance around mindful learning. We also encouraged the students to use the app outside these times to practice their own meditations.

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Results of mindfulness in education

The results of the mindfulness in schools research indicated that the program was beneficial for both students and teachers.

Teachers reported:

  • Improvements in sleep quality,
  • Improved concentration,
  • Enhanced wellbeing
  • Enhanced ability to manage and describe emotions
  • as well as significant reductions in distress and tension.

Students reported:

  • improvements in their sleep and
  • reductions in the experience of bullying and classroom disruptions.

Students more at-risk of emotional difficulties also reported:

  • improvements in emotional wellbeing,
  • reduced psychological distress,
  • enhanced positive wellbeing,
  • enhanced ability to manage emotions and
  • improvements in concentration.

The results indicated that our program can assist with students' sleep, wellbeing, managing emotions, concentration and classroom school behaviour.

We also found that mindfulness leads to student engagement in learning and positive emotional wellbeing for students and the more students practiced the more benefits they experienced over time.

The Smiling Mind Education Program has the potential to change lives, build resilience and enhance learning. The success of the research provides strong evidence to support our vision - to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian school curriculum by 2020.

Our technology-based programs have the potential to reach all students across the country. In the next five years our aim is to see 10,000 Australian schools, 295,000 teachers and 4 million students accessing our programs and integrating mindfulness into their classrooms on a regular basis.

Together, we can create many smiling minds.

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Dr Addie Wootten, CEO, Smiling Mind

I'm a Clinical psychologist and CEO of Smiling Mind. I have worked most of my career in clinical practice and research across a range of major hospitals in Melbourne, primarily focussing on supporting people with cancer. Throughout my clinical career I have seen first hand the benefits that mindfulness can provide and I've used mindfulness in my work for many years. I am an experienced researcher and fundraiser and I'm passionate about my role in leading Smiling Mind to have the biggest and most beneficial impact we can have. 

Smiling Mind is a 100% not-for-profit that's changing the world by helping every mind to thrive.

We're helping people in schools, workplaces, communities and in the home.

We deliver the benefits of mindfulness and meditation to both children and adults via a free app, face-to-face workshops and resources that can be used by both teachers and employers.