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The chronic exposure to stress of living with less money than one needs affects people’s well-being. Studies show that mental un-well-being is associated with socioeconomic inequalities and that poverty-related stress is directly related to symptoms of anxiety and depression. We offered a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) between September 2011 and September 2012 to a sample of low-income urban adults in Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium. The impact on symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression was examined together with the effects on cognitive vulnerability processes of cognitive reactivity and overgeneralization and on the development of mindfulness skills. Results suggest that the MBI significantly reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and cognitive reactivity and overgeneralization and significantly improved mindfulness skills. Greater improvement in mindfulness skills caused by MBIs might result in greater reduction in both symptoms and cognitive vulnerabilities. These findings provide promising evidence of the effectiveness of MBIs to promote economically disadvantaged people’s well-being. The results are consistent with previous studies that have examined the effectiveness of MBIs in other populations and show that a MBI is feasible in social welfare centers that serve low-income adults.
Our objective was to conduct the first randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of a group mindfulness program aimed at reducing and preventing depression in an adolescent school-based population. For each of 12 pairs of parallel classes with students (age range 13–20) from five schools (N = 408), one class was randomly assigned to the mindfulness condition and one class to the control condition. Students in the mindfulness group completed depression assessments (the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) prior to and immediately following the intervention and 6 months after the intervention. Control students completed the questionnaire at the same times as those in the mindfulness group. Hierarchical linear modeling showed that the mindfulness intervention showed significantly greater reductions (and greater clinically significant change) in depression compared with the control group at the 6-month follow-up. Cohen's d was medium sized (>.30) for both the pre-to-post and pre-to-follow-up effect for depressive symptoms in the mindfulness condition. The findings suggest that school-based mindfulness programs can help to reduce and prevent depression in adolescents.