A program conducted under a mental health study that the British government is running up until 2021 will incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises for mindfulness in 370 schools across England.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), 1-in-8 British children have mental disorders, and the number of young children showing signs of early-onset depression and anxiety is rapidly increasing. Additionally, only 1 in every 5 children in the UK with mental issues is able to get access to the treatment they need.
Children often react by screaming and kicking when they simply do not understand what they are going through, or cannot find a way to express their feelings. Tantrums are also a way for them to deal with the new, complex emotions they experience for the first time.
Therefore, these issues will be addressed in a new way now, by teaching mindfulness and meditation in the classroom. Children will learn to meditate, relax the muscles, and breathe for mindfulness, an approach meant to improve their overall mental health. Moreover, awareness will also be taught in secondary schools.
The program is being conducted under a wider mental health study that the British government will be running until 2021.
In a news release announcing the program, the government explained that this study is one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Its aim is to discover which approaches work best for young people in a world of rapid change.
Dr. Jessica Deighton, an associate professor in child mental health and well-being at University College London who is leading the government trials, says that this program is intended to reduce the stigma against mental health problems, by making the school environment literate in mental health.
She also adds that the goal is to equip children for later in life and not just to make them feel better in the short-term. Schools will work with experts in the mental health field to learn the needed relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other emotion-balancing methods.
Improvements in the school system of this kind take place outside England as well. In 2016, to calm the children and boost their focus, a school in Baltimore replaced detention with breathing and stretching exercises done by students in a specific area in the school.