The following articles will complete the research conducted in the Mobility+ programme, as the whole spectrum and contributing factors cannot be discussed at once. In this current paper I’d like to summarize the current knowledge regarding the applicability of mindfulness meditation (MM) and mindfulness based intervention (MBI) techniques among individuals with ADHD and/or ED and look for examples of implementation in educational systems. The present paper can serve as an incentive for future prevention and intervention programs, as well as motivation for extensive, further investigation of the topic.
Effects of mindfulness meditation:
Adolescence represents an important transitional stage of emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical development that may be particularly responsive to mindfulness training (Tang, 2012). Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are „composed of several key components aimed at progressively orienting the participant to an awareness of the connection and synergy between body and mind” (Tang et al., 2012). Mindfulness trainings used as an adjunct treatment for adolescents can lower parental stress and has positive effects on both the parents’ and the adolescents’ well being (Lo et al., 2017), and is also enhances the effectiveness of first line medication treatment (Gu et al., 2018). In Tang’s and colleagues’ review they discuss the effects of Integrative Body-Mind Training (IBMT), which is intended to modify brain states by increasing the brain-body connection of participants during the mediation session (2012). They also identified two neurobiological mechanisms that have been associated with these EF skills and underlie IBMT-related improvements. These are the anterior cingulate cortex and the autonomic nervous system. Changes can occur even after 5 days of training but are greater with longer training periods (Tang et al., 2012). There is convincing evidence for the impact of mindfulness meditation on social and emotional skills, such as self-awareness, emotional regulation. It was also hypothesized that it’s impact on self-regulation, might lead to visible improvements in behaviour labelled as “difficult” (Weare, 2019). MBIs are getting more widespread as it’s adjunct treatment for adolescents with a range of physical and mental health problems (Lin et al., 2019).
Research has shown that mindfulness can have a positive impact on students well being and performance both with and without learning disabilities. Symptoms of Attenton Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), like mind- wandering and difficulty concentrating can create further challenges in academic performance (Leland, 2015), but research indicates that implemented mindfulness training for students with ADHD eases their difficulties and decreases behavioral issues arising from impulsiveness and difficulty reading social cues (Docksai, 2013). In ADHD, the most common childhood psychiatric disorder, in terms of etiology the emphasis is mainly on cognitive theories highlighting the role of (EF) executive functioning (Graziano, & Garcia, 2016). With MBIs several specific specific components of EF (self- and attentional regulation, ability to resolve conflicting information), and the behavioral components of these can be improved. MM can also directly target emotion dysregulation (Bunford et al., 2015). Emotion dysregulation (ED) in ADHD is a predisposing factor of risk-seeking behavior, substance use and aggression. Although broad measures of ED are in their infancy, MM appears to be associated with improvements in some aspects of emotional functioning and regulation (Bunford et al., 2015). In Lin and colleagues’ review (2019) they present findings regarding the effects of MM on the risk of substance use disorders and risk of relapse following SUD treatment Mindfulness- based relapse prevention (MBRP) combines traditional relapse prevention and MM techniques. Evidence suggests that mindfulness may help to treat SUD in adolescents by improving emotional awareness and regulation (Broderick and Jennings, 2012). In the review they also have a closer look on the application of mindfulness for youth with ADHD. The United States Centers for Disease Control reports that 9.8% children are diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD according to a national survey of parents, using data from 2016-2019 (2022). The prevalence clearly shows the societal importance of the topic and calls for further research. Meditation-based activities, such as yoga can also have positive effects in reducing ADHD symptoms (Lin et al., 2019). They also mention the SOBER Breathing Space practice, and the Walking meditation’s effectiveness which can be done in any environment. Nowadays many smartphone applications are available for mastering the MM techniques. Further research should be conducted on the effectiveness of these practices and on the fact that different groups benefit more from one approach versus another (Leland, 2015). IBMT is a useful method for the prevention of risky behaviors and school failure by improving specific components of EF (tang et al., 2012). With the highlighted positive effects of self-regulation and attentional control among individuals with ADHD, IBMT could possibly prevent undesireable outcomes such as aggression, harmful substance use and risky behaviors.
Implementation in educational systems
There is ongoing research on the effectiveness of MM in educational setting among adolescents suggests that mindfulness can provide health benefits such as improved academic performance, skills in focus, problem-solving, impulse control, relationship-building, and stress reduction (Leland, 2015). The role of mindfulness in education is getting more and more acknowledged Leland suggests that elements of MM should be incorporated into curriculums at all levels of education in order to better academic performance (2015). Well conducted MBIs can impact positively on the psychological, mental and social health and well-being of school aged children (Weare, 2019), and the alleviation of stress in university students (Galante et al., 2018). There is a wide range of implementation of MM in educational organizations (Weare, 2019; Wilde et al., 2019; Supakyada et al., 2018; Johnson et al., 2017), and the “whole school” approach is getting more and more widespread. Therefore I propose that mindfulness-based intervention resources should be found in the universities websites, in the libraries for youth, and team up with teachers and healthcare providers in order to introduce MM and MBI techniques in their field. These activities are considered easily implementable in one’s everyday life through education systems; in most cases it could be free or at least inexpensive, and it can be incorporated into existing classes or established as stand-alone classes (Leland, 2015). Despite knowing the benefits of practicing MM, more research in mindfulness would be useful to guide the discussion about how it can be implemented with the greatest impact on students (Leland, 2015). Additionally, I would like to give an example of the implementation of MM in educational systems, that could serve as an example for others. On the second week of attending Utrecht University, I stumbled upon a construct called "mindfulnest", which can be found in a campus building. It provides students with the opportunity to withdraw and relax in a stimulus-free and soundproof space at the temperature and light conditions of their choice. There is also a built-in application through which students can listen to meditation, serene music or soundscapes. The initiation is part of the National Education Programme “Back to better” (NPO) was set up by the Dutch Government to support student wellbeing, and to help strengthen students’ the connection with the study programme during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the mindfulnest they provide various types of support, activities and facilities (UU website). In summary, “mindfulness may be an effective tool to mold students into better learners and educational institutions into better learning communities” (Leland, 2015).
- Bunford, N., Evans, S. W., & Wymbs, F. (2015). ADHD and emotion dysregulation among children and adolescents. Clinical child and family psychology review, 18, 185-217.
- Lin, J., Chadi, N., & Shrier, L. (2019). Mindfulness-based interventions for adolescent health. Current opinion in pediatrics, 31(4), 469-475.
- Tang, Y. Y., Yang, L., Leve, L. D., & Harold, G. T. (2012). Improving executive function and its neurobiological mechanisms through a mindfulness‐based intervention: Advances within the field of developmental neuroscience. Child development perspectives, 6(4), 361-366.
- „The Mindfulnest”- UU website: https://students.uu.nl/en/homepage/guidance-and-development/student-wellbeing/activities/the-mindfulnest
- Leland, M. (2015). Mindfulness and student success. Journal of Adult Education, 44(1), 19-24.
- Weare, K. (2019). Mindfulness and contemplative approaches in education. Current opinion in psychology, 28, 321-326.
- Docksai, R. (2013). A mindful approach to learning. Futurist, 47(5), 8-10.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) data and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
- Broderick P, Jennings P. Mindfulness for adolescents: a promising approach to supporting emotion regulation and preventing risky behavior. New Dir Youth Dev 2012; 2012:111–126.
- Lo HHM, Wong SWL, Wong JYH, et al. The effects of family-based mindfulness intervention on ADHD symptomology in young children and their parents: a randomized control trial. J Atten Disord 2017; https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054717743330.
- Gu Y, Xu G, Zhu Y. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for college students with ADHD. J Atten Disord 2018; 22:388 – 399.
- Galante J, Dufour G, Vainre M et al.: A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindfulness Student Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Lancet Public Health 2018, 3 http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30231-1 published online Dec 18 2017.
- Wilde S, Sonley A, Crane C, Ford T, Raja A, Robson J, Taylor L, Kuyken W: Mindfulness training in UK secondary schools: a multiple case study approach to identification of cornerstones of implementation. Mindfulness 2019, 10:376-389 http://dx.doi. org/10.1007/s12671-018-0982-4.
- Supakyada S, Van Gordon W, Shonin E: Mindfulness in schools: a health promotion approach to improving adolescent mental health. Int J Ment Health Addict 2018, 17:112-119 http://dx.doi. org/10.1007/s11469-018-0001-y.
- Johnson C, Burke C, Brinkman S, Wade T: A randomized controlled evaluation of a secondary school mindfulness program for early adolescents: do we have the recipe right yet? Behav Res Ther 2017, 99:37-46.