LONDON – Pupils in England are already learning math, science and history, but hundreds of schools are preparing to add a new theme to the traditional curriculum: mindfulness.
In up to 370 English schools, students will practice mindfulness as part of a study to improve adolescent mental health, the British government said Monday.
They will work with mental health experts to learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and other methods that help them “regulate their emotions,” the government said in a press release announcing the program.
The aim of the program is to examine which approaches work best for young people in a world of rapid change. The government said the study, which will run until 2021, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
“As a society, we are much more open to our mental health than ever, but the modern world has created new pressures for children,” said British Education Minister Damian Hinds in a statement.
“Children will gradually be dealing with mental health, well-being and happiness issues since the beginning of elementary school,” he added.
The initiative came months after a survey commissioned by the National Health Service concluded that every eighth child in England between the ages of 5 and 19 had at least one mental disorder at the time of its assessment in 2017.
The survey, published in November, also found a slight increase in mental disorders in children aged 5 to 15 years, rising from 9.7 percent in 1999 to 11.2 percent in 2017. Diseases such as anxiety and depression were the most commonly affected, affecting one in twelve early childhood children and adolescents in 2017, and more often in girls.
Imran Hussain, director of politics and campaigning for Action for Children, a UK charity in the United Kingdom, called it “children’s mental crisis”.
“Every day, our frontline services are struggling to make it difficult for children and adolescents to adapt to how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world, home, while everyone is being bombarded by social networks,” he said in a statement Monday ,
He added, “Services like these can reduce the fears, pains and fears that some teenagers are going through, but also reduce their need for intensive support in the future.”
However, two parliamentary committees have criticized the government reports on which the program is based. They focus on coping with emotional issues rather than preventing them. In a report published in May, the Committee on Education, Health and Welfare wrote: “The government’s strategy lacks ambition and will not provide assistance to the majority of children who need it urgently” as the number of children increases Teacher.
“The role of prevention seems to be a missing link in building better support for children and young people, especially in the early years,” the committee wrote. They found that social networks and the high-pressure screening system of schools can have particularly negative effects on the mental health of young people.
Dr. However, Jessica Deighton, a professor of mental health and well-being at University College London, who oversees government processes, said the new initiative should offer more than just quick fixes.
“There is a tendency to believe that the solution is mental intervention,” he said Monday. “We will try to reduce the stigma against mental health issues by raising awareness of the mental health education environment.”
She said the program included several tactics, including training role-play teachers, teaching relaxation exercises, and inviting professionals to group discussions.
“It’s not just about making you feel better in the short term,” Dr. Deighton, “but they need to be better prepared for the future.”