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The three-part study includes the first large randomised control trial of mindfulness training compared with ‘teaching as usual’ in 76 schools, which will involve nearly six thousand students aged 11 to 14. Other parts of the study are a programme of experimental research to establish whether and how mindfulness improves the mental resilience of teenagers, and an evaluation of the most effective way to train teachers to deliver mindfulness classes to students.
The £6.4 million research programme will be carried out by teams at the University of Oxford, UCL and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, over seven years. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Teenage years are a vulnerable time in terms of onset of mental illness, with over 75% of mental disorders beginning before the age of 24 and half by the age of 15. This programme of research is based on the theory that, just as physical training is associated with improved physical health, psychological resilience training is associated with better mental health outcomes. By promoting good mental health and intervening early, i.e. in crucial teenage years, researchers are seeking to understand whether they can build young people’s resilience and help to prevent mental illness developing.
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