Study shows that mindfulness truly does help.


Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that those who practiced mindfulness were less likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

It may be dismissed as mumbo-jumbo by some, but trendy mindfulness can help improve mental health for at least six months.

People who take face-to-face mindfulness classes are less likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, analysis of 13 scientific studies suggests.

Mindfulness usually involves paying close attention to your body and surroundings in the moment, rather than being distracted by future worries – which should lead to feelings such as gratitude for being alive and more calm.

Researchers looked at studies involving a total of 2,371 people ages 17 to 76, across eight countries, to determine how mindfulness may affect mental health.

About half of the study volunteers were randomly assigned to participate in eight-week mindfulness programs, including weekly sessions of one hour to two and a half hours.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that those who practiced mindfulness were less likely to experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Both those who took mindfulness classes and those who didn’t completed questionnaires about their mental health problems ? unpleasant feelings and mental experiences, including anxiety and depression.

People who practiced mindfulness scored lower on average on psychological complaints.

This was shown by questionnaires completed one to six months after people had taken mindfulness classes for eight weeks – or after the same period in people who had not taken any mindfulness training.

It suggests that the small to moderate improvement in mental health seen in those who have learned to be more mindful may persist for at least six months.

Dr. Julieta Galante, who led the research when she worked at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘This study is the highest quality confirmation to date that the in-person mindfulness courses typically offered in the community actually work for the average person.

?It’s not a lie made up because it’s fashionable ? it seems that mindfulness courses are having an effect.

“But at least part of the effect may come from doing mindfulness training in a supportive group, with a teacher paying attention to you.”

The studies first measured people’s levels of anxiety, including anxiety and depression, using questionnaires when they were recruited.

Taking into account their original mental health, it showed how much they improved after eight weeks of mindfulness classes, or eight weeks without mindfulness, when they completed a refresher questionnaire.

The results, based on this method, showed that 63 percent of people who tried mindfulness experienced below-average psychological distress.

Below average, as defined by the researchers, meant below average distress among people who did not receive mindfulness classes.

Since 50 percent of people had a below-average distress score in the non-mindful group, because the average was the middle score, that suggests that another 13 percent of people got a mental health boost in the mindful group.

The review, published in the journal Nature Mental Health, found that men and women and people of all ages seemed to benefit from mindfulness.

It is suggested to improve well-being and increase emotional resilience.

But more importantly, the findings were only for in-person mindfulness sessions, so more evidence is needed on how using fashionable mindfulness apps can affect depression and anxiety.

These digital options may be less helpful because they don’t involve face-to-face emotional support and people don’t do it in a group.

The scientific review found more mental health problems in people who did mindfulness sessions compared to those who didn’t.

But four studies also compared people who took mindfulness classes with people who took another type of class that could improve their mental health, such as exercise sessions or a stress management course.

There was no evidence that mindfulness reduced psychological distress compared to these sessions, suggesting that it is better than nothing, but may not be better than other activities.

Previous evidence suggests that mindfulness may work better for people who expect it to work, or think positively about it.

Dr. Galante, now deputy director of the Contemplative Studies Centre, at the University of Melbourne, said: ‘We have confirmed that if adults choose to take a mindfulness course in person, with a teacher and delivered in a group setting, this will, are on average helpful in terms of helping them reduce their mental health issues, which will improve their mental health.

“However, we’re not saying it should be done by everyone, as research shows it just doesn’t work for some people.”