Effectiveness of Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health in Schools: a Comprehensive Meta-analysis

Abstract

Mindfulness interventions have increasingly been incorporated in elementary and high school classrooms to support students’ mental health and well-being; however, there is little research examining the specific factors contributing to the effectiveness of the interventions. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine the specific effects of and moderators contributing to school-based mindfulness interventions for mental health in youth. A systematic review of studies published in PsycINFO, ERIC, Social Work Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and CINAHL was conducted. A total of 24 studies (n = 3977) were included in the meta-analysis. Overall, mindfulness interventions were found to be helpful, with small to moderate significant effects pre-post intervention compared to control groups (Hedges’ g = 0.24, p < .001); however, interventions that were delivered during late adolescence (15–18) and that consisted of combinations of various mindfulness activities had the largest effects on mental health and well-being outcomes. Furthermore, the effects on specific mindfulness and mental health outcomes differed according to whether the intervention was delivered by an outside facilitator compared to trained educators/teachers. These results suggest that individual differences and program characteristics can impact receptivity and effectiveness of mindfulness training. These findings represent a significant contribution as they can be used to inform future designs and applications of mindfulness interventions in the school setting.

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Carsley, D., Khoury, B. & Heath, N.L. Effectiveness of Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health in Schools: a Comprehensive Meta-analysis. Mindfulness 9, 693–707 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0839-2

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mental health
  • School
  • Children
  • Adolescents