Ontario’s School-Based Mental Health Initiative
This initiative may be the key to bringing mindfulness to your school!
Improving mental health a key initiative of the Ontario government. School Mental Health ASSIST (SMHA) is a part of this initiative and is designed to support school boards with student mental health and well-being. This support is provided via resources, tools, and implementation support.
Over the last 3 years, each school board has been provided a mental health leader, with responsibility for implementing a mental health program in their board. This includes not only helping those at risk of or suffering from mental health problems, but also class-wide programs to improve social and emotional learning (SEL).
The mental health lead is the person responsible for implementing Ontario’s mental health initiative in that board. Mental health leaders were appointed for each of the 72 school boards – 15 in 2011/12, 15 in 2012/13, and 42 in 2013/14. Click here to see when your board got a mental health leader.
Mindfulness programs deliver deep SEL.
Discover Mindfulness has prepared a two-page fact sheet outlining the evidence on the benefits of mindfulness programs and how they can help with the eight mental health issues outlined in Supporting Minds, the educator’s guide produced by the province, which is the key document guiding educators in improving the mental health of their students. It states that promotion of positive mental health includes social and emotional learning (SEL), and that there is clear evidence explicit SEL instruction improves academic outcomes, and that it is appropriate for general class-wide use (as opposed to programs for at-risk students or those diagnosed with mental health issues or mental illness).
With fact sheet in hand, it’s never been easier to talk to administrators and mental health leaders about mindfulness.
We saw this at DM’s March 1 meeting, where people were enthusiastic to contact their school board’s mental health leader and encourage them to provide mindfulness programs.
It’s vital that all of us make it clear to our mental health leaders that mindfulness can be a critical tool in achieving their objectives. One caution – if you work in the school system, please contact your administrator first rather than going directly to your board’s mental health leader.
If you’re interested in working with Discover Mindfulness to create and implement a plan to bring mindfulness to schools through the school mental health initiative, please contact us.
Here are some key links:
- Supporting Minds – An Educator’s Guide to Promoting Students’ Mental Health and Well-being (Draft version 2013)
- DM Fact Sheet on Student Mental Health and Well-being – this document can be downloaded, printed (double sided if possible), and presented to school decision makers. If you are school staff, please contact your administrators before contacting your board’s mental health leader.
White Paper on Integrating Mindfulness Training in Education
A recently-published white paper points to the benefits of providing mindfulness training to educators and provides recommendations for further research and implementation. Entitled Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students the paperwas published online March 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media.
To explore this important white paper further:
Download the complete white paper (19 pages);
Read the executive summary; or
Read an interview transcript with lead author John Meiklejohn, LICSW.
For further information on current research, see: The Association for Mindfulness in Education
How to Select a Teen Mindfulness Program
Heidi Bornstein & Stephen Chadwick gave a 3 hour, in-depth presentation at the Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego in February 2014, titled “What Really Matters In Mindfulness Programs for Teens: Key Elements That Engage, Energize and Inspire Teens to Practice Mindful Awareness.” A great overview of how to choose a program that’s right for your school and plenty of helpful information to demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness for schools. Click Here to see the slide deck.
Stop, Breathe & Think
For iPhones & iPads only. Stop, Breathe & Think is a free iTunes mindfulness app for teens. It teaches the basics of mindfulness meditation and asks the user to do a 10-second check-in, answer a few questions about their present state, suggests a few meditations, and then provides a short guided meditation, about 5 or 6 minutes. It tracks your progress and awards “stickers” when you finish a guided meditation. For more info or to download for free, click here.
For iPhones & iPads &Androids. Struggling with anxiety? Tired of missing out? There are things you can do to stop anxiety and fear from controlling your life. MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety. It can help you change how you think about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift and face it.
For more info or to download for free, click here.
By The National Center for Telehealth and Technology
Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool, or can be used in tandem with clinical care directed by a healthcare worker.
For more info or to download for free, click here.
An online resource from Australia that bills itself as “modern meditation for young people… a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives.” It also offers a free computer-based mindfulness in education program for ages 7-11, 12-15 and 16-22.
For more info or to access for free, click here.
To complement his new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver Of Excellence, Daniel Goleman created three CD’s of exercises geared toward improving focus. One for adults, one for teens, and one for kids. Whether you’re a teen or you know one, find a comfortable place to take in this episode of the podcast, as you’ll spend 10 minutes with the Focus On Listening exercise from the Focus For Teens CD.
Teach Breathe, Learn: mindfulness in and out of the classroom
Meena Srinivasan, a school teacher with a passion for mindfulness and social justice has written a practical guide to help teachers find their own unique path to deeper fulfillment and efficacy, first in their own lives and then in their work. More info about the book.
“The Contemplative Practitioner – Meditation in Education and the Workplace” – 2nd edition
Twenty years after it was first published, The Contemplative Practitioner remains one of the best guides to applying contemplative practice. For this new edition, Miller has updated the text to reflect the growth of the mindfulness movement, new research into the brain, and his years of experience teaching and practicing contemplation in teacher education. The Contemplative Practitioner, Second Edition will be useful whether one is seeking to integrate contemplation into one’s own life, or is interested in how contemplation can be used in the classroom or the workplace. John P. Miller is a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and learning at the Ontario institute for Studies in education, University of Toronto. He is the author or editor of 17 books on holistic learning and contemplative practices in education.
For more information, click here.
To order on Amazon.ca, click here.
- Applied Mindfulness Meditation program at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work – certificates offered, dozens of courses (including Mindfulness Without Borders program for high-schools – see Program Finder page for details)
- Mindfulness and Contemplative Education – an Interactive Site for Teachers, Scholars, Researchers, and Students. This York University hosted site facilitates contact, information sharing, collaboration on projects, mentoring students and a range of other activities. You can register and post your information as well as search the site for colleagues and material that interests you. It is used mainly by post-secondary educators, researchers and students.
- Healthy Student Initiative – York University program offers online meditation to the public. This is an ongoing research program and those participating in the study (which is optional) are compensated.
- Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education – The DLC works to bring mindfulness to education. It shares evidence-based practice, encourages collaboration, and works with leaders in education, science, government, business and philanthropy who understand the value of advancing heart-mind well-being.
- Heart-Mind Online is a website developed by the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. It is for anyone searching for evidenced-informed resources that educate the hearts of children. The collection of resources builds capacity in individuals and communities to support the development of the hearts and minds of children, and promotes their positive social and emotional development.
- Mindfulness for Teens – This website offers information about mindfulness and a number of practices to help teens kick start their own mindfulness practice. Developed by Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician at the University of British Columbia and author of the Mindful Teen.
North America Links
- Mindfulness in Education Network – www.mindfuled.org – a network for educators who are or want to bring mindfulness into the classroom
- Association for Mindfulness in Education – www.mindfuleducation.org – collaborative association of organizations and individuals working together to provide support for mindfulness training as a component of K-12 education, see their Resources page for list of mindfulness in education programs
- Garrison Institute – www.garrisoninstitute.org – develops and researches mindfulness in education programs, offers conferences and retreats at their centre in New York state
- CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) – www.casel.org – the largest SEL think tank in the world. CASEL’s mission is to help make social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school. All you want to know about SEL programs.
- Greater Good Science Center – greatergood.berkeley.edu – studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Many excellent articles on mindfulness in education.
- Edutopia – www.edutopia.org – large US non-profit that shares evidence- and practitioner-based learning strategies that empower you to improve K-12 education. Many articles on mindfulness and social & emotional learning (SEL).
- The Mindful Teacher – mindfulteacher.com – website of Dr. Dennis Shirley, Professor of Education at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, designed to provide a virtual community of inquiry and practice. Includes guided meditations, reviews of mindfulness apps, research, and discussion boards.
- Mindfulness Research Guide – www.mindfulexperience.org – a comprehensive electronic resource and publication database that provides information to researchers, practitioners, and the general public on the scientific study of mindfulness, including: a database of research publications, measurement tools to assess mindfulness, the evidence base for mindfulness interventions, and centers conducting mindfulness research. It also publishes the Mindfulness Research Monthly, a free electronic newsletter.
- Hemera Foundation – provides scholarships for educator retreats. The application deadline for Hemera’s Summer 2014 Contemplative Fellowships for Educators was March 21, 2014. Fellowship awards for Summer 2014 will be announced on April 15, 2014. For more information click here.
- Huffington Post – lots of news and articles about mindfulness – www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/mindfulness-meditation and a mindfulness research section – www.huffingtonpost.com/news/gps-mindfulness-research
- UK – Guardian Teacher Network resources on How to Teach Mindfulness – tips, scripts, audio and video and many other ideas and tools for teaching mindfulness to students.
- UK – MindSpace Resources page – guided meditations, articles and all kinds of resources to bring mindfulness to schools.
- WakeUP Schools – www.wakeupschools.org – an initiative of Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village to recognize the importance of creating sustainable and lasting programs in schools that support the happiness and well-being of teachers, administrators, students, and parents.
- Smiling Mind – www.smilingmind.com.au – an online resource from Australia that bills itself as “modern meditation for young people… a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives.” It also offers a free computer-based mindfulness in education program for ages 7-11, 12-15 and 16-22.
Daniel Goleman, “Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence” | Talks at Google
Daniel Goleman, the famous psychologist and author of the best seller, Emotional Intelligence, gives a groundbreaking look at today’s scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention. To watch the video click here.
Mindful Teens Music Video
Check out this fresh, joyful video about mindfulness for and by teens. To watch the video click here.
Middle School Stress
In this poignant, tender film, middle schoolers learn the gentle skills of mindful attention and begin to release the grip of stress and anxiety. “Release” was created by a graduate of Mindful Schools, Julia Bayer Salzman. To watch it click here.
For information on mindfulness in education programs, see our Program Finder page.