Does mindfulness work for every student?

Many universities are working towards providing more mental health and wellbeing services such as counselling, drop-in sessions, and stress management. Mindfulness training is an example of such an intervention (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2011; O’Driscoll et al, 2019) 1,2. Such interventions are increasingly popular among higher education students and reported to be an effective component of a wider student mental health strategy to increase resilience and reduce stress in university students (Galante et al, 2018; Reavleya, 2017) 3,4. Additionally, meditation workshops are becoming readily available for students in academic institutions (Van der Riet, 2018) 5.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration and improve relationships.

However, a recent BBC articles reported 6,7  that “There is little evidence that teaching all school pupils mindfulness improves their overall resilience and mental health, studies have found…” “…But while a “one-size fits all” approach may not work, mindfulness may have benefits for some pupils….” “Many of the teachers, meanwhile, said they had found the mindfulness training useful for their own wellbeing….”.

The researchers posit that the most likely explanation for the fact that the mindfulness application did not improve student mental health is that very few students (less than 20%) took any interest in doing the home practice—a key part of the program.

The SEJ Process when practised will bring you back to the present moment naturally, as it is only focusing on the thoughts in our mind that take us away from it. A person becomes naturally meditative at Step 2 of the SEJ Process, this active meditation also impacts upon the physical causing breathing to regulate, which is observed during the practice of the Process. Not only does the SEJ enable you to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations but also the behaviours, and improved relationships with self and others is an inevitable result of the SEJ.

The great advantage the SEJ process over such mindfulness programme as the ones reported is that since it is a process of self enquiry it is truly unique to the individual bringing resolution in the moment the process is applied. The students who practice the SEJ process can manage their own wellbeing and mental health, as well as self-manage any difficulties without solely relying on support from staff or overstretched services. As they have learnt the core life skill of self-management they have a strong sense of empowerment, enabling them to self-regulate and therefore maintain positive mental health.

Additional ongoing support and resources available to all who has learnt the SEJ further enables the individual to maintain their practice of the SEJ, motivating and encouraging them to sustain their wellbeing with the application of the process.

If you would like to know more about the SEJ process and how integrating it into the curriculum has improved Foundation Level student’s experience of transition to HEI, please take a look at the education website: https://thesej.co.uk/education-services/

Dr M Howard-Kishi

  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2011) Mental Health Of Students in Higher Education: College Report CR166. Retrevied from https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/improving-care/better-mh-policy/college-reports/college-report-cr166.pdf?sfvrsn=d5fa2c24_2
  2. Michelle O’Driscoll et al (2019). A Thematic Analysis of Pharmacy Students’ Experiences of the Undergraduate Pharmacy Degree in Ireland and the Role of Mindfulness. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83 (1), 6457. Retrieved from: doi: https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe6457.
  3. Julieta Galante et al (2018). A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Lancet Public Health, 3 (2), e72–e81. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30231-1
  4. Nicola J Reavleya. (2017). Mindfulness training in higher education students. The Lancet, 3 (2), E55-E56. Retrieved from: doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30241-4
  5. Van der Riet, P., Levett-Jones, T., andAquino-Russel, C. (2018). The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for nurses and nursing students: An integrated literature review. Nurse Education Today. 65: 201-211. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2018.03.018
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-62126567
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-62141626

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