Mindfulness is commonly defined as “the awareness that arises when paying attention to the present moment nonjudgmentally.” It is the conscious practice of being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a therapeutic approach that was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. It is an 8-week program that uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, yoga, and exploration of patterns of behavior, thinking, feeling and action to reduce stress, increase emotional regulation, and improve overall well-being. Though originally developed for stress management, MBSR has evolved to encompass the treatment of a variety of adolescent and teenage mental health related issues. There is a wide breadth of empirical data that substantiates the valuable role of MBSR in teenage mental health treatment, some of which is highlighted below:
- Reduced psychological symptoms: Several systematic reviews have demonstrated evidence that mindfulness-based interventions, including MBSR, can reduce psychological symptoms, including depressive symptoms among adolescents. Mindfulness promotes greater emotional regulation, self-awareness, and acceptance, which can alleviate depressive symptoms.
- Bolsters coping skills: One study examining mindfulness-based stress reduction for mental health in youth, found MBSR to be effective for improved coping with internalizing problems and adaptive emotional skills. Mindfulness encourages non-reactivity and acceptance of difficult emotions and situations. MBSR aims to help teenagers learn healthier ways to cope with challenges and adversity.
- Interrupts maladaptive rumination patterns: It is highly common for teenagers with mental health challenges to struggle with rumination, or repetitive negative thinking. According to the New York Times, MBSR encourages teenagers to redirect their attention to the present moment which can help teenagers learn to break the cycle of rumination.
- Improves sleep: Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the effects of mindfulness-based intervention programs on sleep among people with common mental disorders, concluded that MBSR significantly improved sleep quality and mental health.
As the Harvard Review of Psychiatry states, “The cultivation of mindfulness, involving acceptance and nonjudgment of present-moment experience, often results in transformative health behavior change.” Mindfulness-based stress reduction has shown significant benefit in overall mental health. It can contribute to improved emotional well-being, reduced symptoms of mental health disorders, and enhanced overall psychological functioning.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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