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During the past 30 years, there has been an increase in the incidence of cancer in adolescents. While recent studies have illustrated remarkable resilience in youth living with cancer, they can also face daunting acute and chronic adjustment struggles, cognitive and school problems, family and peer relational difficulties, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and other anxiety disorders. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), increasingly shown to be effective in a variety of medical and mental health settings, may be particularly beneficial for adolescents with cancer. This paper reviews evidence from clinical trials of MBIs showing a variety of benefits for adult cancer patients, adolescents with anxiety disorders and chronic pain, and clinically healthy teenagers, which collectively point to likely benefits of MBIs for teen cancer patients. The authors also explore ways that the particular psychological problems often faced by teen cancer patients, including anxiety about the future, may be especially well suited to mindfulness approaches such as learning to observe physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions, as well as cultivating compassion towards themselves and others. The paper concludes with an exploration of unanswered and potential research questions regarding the future use of MBIs with adolescents with cancer, and potentially with teenagers with other chronic diseases.
This pilot study evaluated the impact of mindfulness groups on 20 Latino middle school students who participated in 8-session structured groups using the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens curriculum. The participants’ scores on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; the Self-Compassion Scale; the Perceived Stress Scale; and the Depression, Anxiety, and Hostility subscales of the Symptom Check List–90–R were examined at 3 points in time. There were no significant changes during the baseline period. Following participation in the groups, the adolescents’ mindfulness and self-compassion scores significantly increased, and their perceived stress and depression significantly decreased.
Over the past decade, training in mindfulness—the intentional cultivation of moment-by-moment non-judgmental focused attention and awareness—has spread from its initial western applications in medicine to other fields, including education. This paper reviews research and curricula pertaining to the integration of mindfulness training into K-12 education, both indirectly by training teachers and through direct teaching of students. Research on the neurobiology of mindfulness in adults suggests that sustained mindfulness practice can enhance attentional and emotional self-regulation and promote flexibility, pointing toward significant potential benefits for both teachers and students. Early research results on three illustrative mindfulness-based teacher training initiatives suggest that personal training in mindfulness skills can increase teachers’ sense of well-being and teaching self-efficacy, as well as their ability to manage classroom behavior and establish and maintain supportive relationships with students. Since 2005, 14 studies of programs that directly train students in mindfulness have collectively demonstrated a range of cognitive, social, and psychological benefits to both elementary (six studies) and high school (eight studies) students. These include improvements in working memory, attention, academic skills, social skills, emotional regulation, and self-esteem, as well as self-reported improvements in mood and decreases in anxiety, stress, and fatigue. The educational goals, target population, and core features of ten established mindfulness-based curricula are described. Finally, the need for more rigorous scientific evidence of the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions in K-12 education is discussed, along with suggestions of specific process, outcome, and research-design questions remaining to be answered.
The demands and pressures of everyday life can really stress you out! School, work, relationships, social media, and the like can leave you pulled in so many directions it can make your head spin. When you need help fast, these simple, accessible, mindfulness-based practices will help bring you relief and ease right away. If you make these mindfulness and self-care practices part of your routine, you’ll discover little life hacks to get through even the toughest days.
Research has shown that mindfulness-based treatment interventions may be effective for a range of mental and physical health disorders in adult populations, but little is known about the effectiveness of such interventions for treating adolescent conditions. The present randomized clinical trial was designed to assess the effect of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for adolescents age 14 to 18 years with heterogeneous diagnoses in an outpatient psychiatric facility (intent-to-treat N = 102). Relative to treatment-as-usual control participants, those receiving MBSR self-reported reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatic distress, and increased self-esteem and sleep quality. Of clinical significance, the MBSR group showed a higher percentage of diagnostic improvement over the 5-month study period and significant increases in global assessment of functioning scores relative to controls, as rated by condition-naïve clinicians. These results were found in both completer and intent-to-treat samples. The findings provide evidence that MBSR may be a beneficial adjunct to outpatient mental health treatment for adolescents.
Preparation for the role of therapist can occur on both professional and personal levels. Research has found that therapists are at risk for occupationally related psychological problems. It follows that self-care may be a useful complement to the professional training of future therapists. The present study examined the effects of one approach to self-care, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), for therapists in training. Using a prospective, cohort-controlled design, the study found participants in the MBSR program reported significant declines in stress, negative affect, rumination, state and trait anxiety, and significant increases in positive affect and self-compassion. Further, MBSR participation was associated with increases in mindfulness, and this enhancement was related to several of the beneficial effects of MBSR participation. Discussion highlights the potential for future research addressing the mental health needs of therapists and therapist trainees.