In 2016 the Special Yoga team was commissioned by Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to develop a programme as part of their wider prevention programme to build up mental health resilience in the 80 schools within the borough of Havering.

 

Mental Health Crisis in Schools

Mental health problems affect 1 in 10 children and young people, including anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorders (Mental Health Foundation, UK).

Over three quarters (79%) of teachers have reported experiencing work related anxiousness (NASUWT Survey, 2016).

  • 86% have suffered sleeplessness
  • 73% have suffered low energy levels
  • 47% of teachers have seen a doctor as a result of work related physical or mental health problems

Findings suggest that prevention programmes are most effective when they instil positive changes across the school environmental, rather than independently focusing on the child (Greenberg et al., 2001).

“High quality education cannot be delivered bystressed and anxious teachers.” – Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT

“…70% of children and young people who have experienced a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.” (Mental Health Foundation,UK)

 

The Programme

We designed three programmes:

Each programme consists of 6 hours split over 3 twilight sessions:

Session 1) Solely focuses on Mindfulness for the Staff

Session 2) Provides techniques to explain Mindfulness to Students

Session 3) Additional tools to integrate the practice into the curriculum for both staff and students

 

How effective was the programme?

The Participants

  • 102 teachers across: 2 secondary school programmes 4 primary school programmes, 2 SEN School programmes and 139 students across
  • 6 schools

Measures used

The Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Scale (SCWBS)

Students aged 8-13 completed SCWBS prior to engaging in mindfulness practices and four weeks after. Consists of 12 statements assessing wellbeing. Measurement of intervention effectiveness. Scientifically validated with children aged 8 years and above.

The Warkwick-Edinburgh Mental Scale (WEMWBS)

Students’ aged 13+ and Teachers completed the WEMWBS. Consists of 14 statements about thoughts and feelings. Measurement of positive mental health. Developed as part of the Mental Health Indicators Programme of NHS Health Scotland.

Student Worksheets

A qualitative worksheet was piloted with one class of student asking them to draw and write how they feel when completing mindfulness practices.

The Results

There was a significant overall increase in teachers’ level of mental health resilience wellbing after attending MFMHR training.

WEMWBS scores increased by 4% pre-mindfulness training (M=55.47, SD=8.97) to post-mindfulness training (M=56.66, SD=9.74) (p<0.001)

There was a 3% increase in mental wellbeing of teacher who attended the Special Educational Needs MFMHR training.

Teacher feedback

  • There was a parent assembly and one boy was sad about his dad leaving and had a melt down… “Once he calmed down he came back to the teacher and said his guard dog was barking and didn’t let the owl speak.”
  • “Best nights sleep I’ve had in a while after the first session”
  • “The flipping the lid exercise has made a dramatic difference in one particular class with children with challenging behaviours. Other teachers are surprised and are interested in training to bring tools to their classrooms.”
  • “I felt a mental shift and a better sense of calm using the breathing techniques.”
  • “Now I take the time every Sunday to go for a walk and practice the mindfulness outside and I really look forward to it.”

The music teacher said that she noticed a notable difference in quieting the children down, they calmed down much quicker than normal.

 

Conclusions

The results indicate that the programme had a positive influence on both teachers’ and students’ emotional wellbeing and resilience. The training programme provided teachers with useful strategies to manage their own stress levels. The quantitative data demonstrates an increase in teachers’ emotional wellbeing and resilience after attending the programme and using the mindfulness practices. Teachers also reported that they enjoyed doing the practices and that it had a positive impact on their own wellbeing. Teachers were able to successfully integrate regular mindfulness practices into the curriculum. There was an increase in students’ emotional wellbeing and resilience after being exposed to mindfulness practices in the classroom. The qualitative data demonstrates that students found the practices beneficial in helping them to feel calm and relaxed.

“Using the exercises with one child in particular with ASD, sever anxiety and self-harming tendencies has responded positively and I’ve seen a difference in his behaviours.”

If you are interested in bringing Special Yoga and Mindfulness to your school  – please contact us for more information