Last week PM Theresa May announced that a third of all UK secondary schools will this year receive mental health training delivered by Mental Health First Aid UK. By 2020 all secondary schools will have been offered this training. Whilst this may seem difficult to implement in the face of more funding cuts for schools, it signals an increasing awareness of the fact that mental illness too often begins in childhood. (1) When left untreated, it can affect people throughout their lives and the emphasis is therefore being placed on supporting children and young people in order to prevent this happening.
With a growing awareness of the stresses placed on children and rising levels of mental health problems, especially in teenagers, it is becoming increasingly important to provide them with support. According to Young Minds UK, the number of young people aged 15-16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s. Furthermore, over the last ten years the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm has increased by 68%. (2)
So where does this leave yoga and mindfulness for young people? There have been numerous studies into the benefits of such practices on mental health. Trials have demonstrated that it can help to reduce the stress response, increasing the pain threshold and improving mood. (3) When offered to young people, it helps to build resilience, providing them with tools to manage and deal with the rising levels of stress. Psychological challenges tend to increase during puberty, largely as a result of psychological and biological changes, hormones and synaptic pruning. Furthermore, the pressures from family, school and society to perform and conform have been intensified by the increase in technology and developments in society. (4) Yoga offers an opportunity to take time out, to connect to the body and breath instead of the outside world through a computer screen. In a culture that never sleeps, it is a necessary moment to pause.
Live Love Yoga have been running yoga and mindfulness sessions for young people for the past 8 years. From working with disengaged young mums to teenagers with anxiety, depression and chronic pain, we have seen first hand the ways that yoga and mindful practices can help. Sessions provide an opportunity to meet people who are going through similar experiences, allowing young people to feel connected as opposed to isolated. They have helped our students to feel calmer, more confident and to manage their conditions. (more results can be found on our case studies page) . Whilst it is not a cure for any mental health illness, yoga and mindfulness often helps young people to cope, developing positive lifestyle habits that they will be able to carry forward into the rest of their lives.
If you would like to join us in supporting young people through yoga and mindfulness, why not join one of our Youth Yoga training courses or bring a training day to your school or organisation. The benefits of such sessions, whether just 5 minutes a day or an hour a week, are invaluable.
- 1. http://schoolsweek.co.uk/pm-pledges-free-mental-health-training-for-secondary-school-teachers/
- 2. http://www.youngminds.org.uk/training_services/policy/mental_health_statistics
- 3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
- 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3980104/