MINDFULNESS: HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE LEAD HAPPY & SUCCESSFUL LIVESInterview with Rosie
Can you briefly share about your background and area of expertise?My name is Rosie and I am a psychologist and coach from the UK. I coach students on various skills that support their wellbeing, academic studies, organizational skills and self-management. I am also experienced in supporting young people and young adults with a range of executive functioning issues. I am a certified .b (pronounced ‘dot-be’) trainer, which is an innovative evidence-based mindfulness curriculum.
Why are you so passionate about mental health education?Young people have a unique set of challenges that can be incredibly stressful. In a time when their brains and bodies are changing very quickly they also have to learn how to build relationships, successfully complete exams, participate in various extracurricular activities, and navigate the distractions of social media! According to the World Health Organization, the number of persons with common mental disorders globally is going up. Common mental disorders include depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. Therefore, we need to destigmatize mental illness and proactively equip young people with skills they need to become resilient, resourceful adults. We need to bring the discussion into the classroom.
There has been a lot of talk about mindfulness practises. Can you explain what it is and how it works?A great deal of this media interest on mindfulness practises has arisen as a result of the growing body of rigorous research evidence regarding the potential benefits of mindfulness for young people. These include randomised control trials and neuroscientific studies. At its most basic level, mindfulness helps train your attention to be more aware of what is actually happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen. We learn to bring greater curiosity to whatever it is we experience. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founding father of secular mindfulness, described this skill as ‘being alive and knowing it’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgXZW6Xqokw As Professor Weare discusses in her award-winning research summary, schools that engage in mindfulness leads to beneficial results on the emotional wellbeing, mental health, ability to learn, and even the physical health of students. It is a relatively cheap intervention that can have an impact fairly quickly, in addition to fitting into a wide range of contexts, and, above all, are enjoyable and civilizing, for pupils and staff.
So how does Linden help students integrate these techniques into their daily lives?We do this through 1:1 coaching or group sessions. The mindfulness curriculum I offer is called ‘.b’, which is a 10-session course for young people aged 11-18. The .b curriculum is typically offered as a series of lessons which encourages integrating the learning and practice of mindfulness in our everyday lives.
How does the .b program work?
.b aims to help young people:
- To improve their concentration and focus, in classes, in exams and tests, on the sports field, when playing games, when paying attention and listening to others.
- To fulfil their potential and pursue their own goals (e.g., be more creative and more relaxed, both academically and personally).
- To experience greater well-being (e.g., feel happier, calmer, more fulfilled).
- To work with difficult mental states such as anxious thoughts and low moods.
- To cope with the everyday stresses and strains of adolescent life, such as exams, relationships, sleep problems, and family issues.