Mindfulness is often observed to be a depression-buster in adults. But does a meditation training to young kids in a school setting work effectively? A first-of-its-kind study in Belgium sought to answer that question.
The study was carried out at five middle schools in Flanders, Belgium. 400 students between the ages of 13 and 20 were part of the study. The students were divided into a test group and a control group. The test group underwent mindfulness training, and the control group got no such training.
Before the study, both groups completed a questionnaire with questions measuring depression, stress or anxiety symptoms. Both groups filled in the same questionnaire again immediately after the training, and then a third time six months later.
Before the start of the training, both the test group and the control group had a similar percentage of students reporting evidence of depression 21 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. Having undergone the mindfulness training, the percentage plummeted in the test group to 15. The percentage in the control group at the second reading was 27. Even six months after the training, only 16 per cent of the test group showed signs of depression and anxiety where as 31 per cent of the control group reported evidence of depression. The results suggest that mindfulness can lead to a decrease in symptoms associated with depression and that the benefits can last over a large period of time.