In a bid to help improve rates of mental illness researchers are introducing mindfulness classes to teenagers
Across the country thousands of teenagers are due to receive school lessons in mindfulness in an attempt to see if it provides any protection against mental illness.
Using ‘mind exercises’ teachers will encourage over 6,000 children aged 11 to 14 to train their attention on the present, with activities such as deep breathing and feelings based questionnaires.
Mindfulness is already taught in some schools, however this is the first large-scale trial with researchers looking to determine whether introducing it to children early on might help to build up their psychological resilience.They suggest that, just as going for a run can help protect and improve physical health, mind exercises could be linked to better mental fitness and less mental illness overall.
The aim is to focus attention on the here and now, to make students aware of impulsive behaviour, and - over time - improve their ability to solve problems when under stress.
Haroon, a student at UCL Academy in London, says without mindfulness he would probably be much more rowdy in class. He told the BBC: "Children our age might think it is just a waste of time, just sitting there. But I don't agree. For example, certain thoughts might hold you back but just thinking about them and reflecting on them might help you think about them in different ways."
The trial, expected to begin late next year, will run for five years, including a follow-up period of two years for each student.