Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth

Abstract

Youth in underserved, urban communities are at risk for a range of negative outcomes related to stress, including social-emotional difficulties, behavior problems, and poor academic performance. Mindfulness-based approaches may improve adjustment among chronically stressed and disadvantaged youth by enhancing self-regulatory capacities. This paper reports findings from a pilot randomized controlled trial assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention. Four urban public schools were randomized to an intervention or wait-list control condition (n = 97 fourth and fifth graders, 60.8% female). It was hypothesized that the 12-week intervention would reduce involuntary stress responses and improve mental health outcomes and social adjustment. Stress responses, depressive symptoms, and peer relations were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Findings suggest the intervention was attractive to students, teachers, and school administrators and that it had a positive impact on problematic responses to stress including rumination, intrusive thoughts, and emotional arousal.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by grants from the Mind and Life Institute, the Attias Family Foundation, the Center for Prevention of Youth Violence at Johns Hopkins University (5U49CE000728), and the Penn State Prevention Research Center. We are grateful for the close collaboration and partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation who provided the intervention and fully complied with all research requirements. We thank our project manager, Sarah Godby, for her assistance with data collection and management, as well as the other members of our research team. We also thank the Baltimore City Public Schools and the teachers, parents, and students who participated in this project.

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Correspondence to Tamar Mendelson.

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Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M.T., Dariotis, J.K. et al. Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth. J Abnorm Child Psychol 38, 985–994 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-010-9418-x

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Prevention
  • School-based intervention
  • Chronic stress