Fund Mental Skills Training for All Children and Young People in Aotearoa New Zealand
Latest data shows New Zealand ranks 34th out of 41 countries regarding overall childhood wellbeing. Our adolescent suicide rate is the highest among developed nations. (1)
Antidepressant medication being prescribed to children under 13 years in New Zealand has increased 79.4 percent since 2006, and increased 101.9 percent among teens aged 14-18 during the same time period. (2)
Recent analysis has shown that increased smartphone and tablet usage corresponds with increased feelings of loneliness, decreasing levels of sleep and decreased social interactions among young people, leading some experts to comment that we are on the brink of a major mental health crisis among children and young people. (3)
NZ school children, teachers and youth services staff are not receiving the support they need due to an absence of funding for evidence-based and proven programmes such as Pause, Breathe, Smile and ATAWHAI.
EVIDENCE-BASED, AOTEAROA-DEVELOPED SOLUTIONS
Pause, Breathe, Smile and ATAWHAI have a combined highly positive impact for young New Zealanders across a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. This includes:
- mainstream primary, intermediate and high schools
- Māori and Pasifika tamariki and rangatahi
- schools with high ethnic diversity
- children impacted by the Canterbury earthquakes
- marginalised youth dealing with anxiety and depression
- youth in alternative education and youth justice
Both programmes are being translated into Te Reo Māori with a focus on applications and research in partnership with iwi and within Kura Kaupapa Māori settings.
Pause, Breathe, Smile aligns with the New Zealand Education Curriculum, making it easy for schools to implement. It is supported by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and has an internationally recognised published evidence base of effectiveness.
ATAWHAI is a youth mentoring and mindfulness-based programme that has resulted in transformational change among high-priority youth.
Research (4,5,6), and evaluation results of these programmes show children and young people experience:
- Increased calm and resilience
- Increased focus and attention
- Enhanced self-awareness and conflict-resolution skills
- Increased kindness, empathy, connection and pro-social behaviour
- Statistically significant increases in emotional and general wellbeing
Teachers, youth mentors and program facilitators also report reductions in stress.
These findings add to the international evidence base, which shows that when taught in schools, mindfulness boosts cognitive performance and builds resilience (7).
Please sign now to recommend funding for these programmes.
Together we can boost the wellbeing of our nation’s young people, ensuring they’re equipped with awesome mental skills to thrive and not just survive in the face of a rapidly changing, uncertain world.
Mindfulness Education Group: https://www.mindfulnesseducation.nz
The Kindness Institute: http://thekindnessinstitute.com
(1) UNICEF (2017). Building the Future - Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries. UNICEF Ofﬁce of Research – Innocenti. Florence, Italy.
(2) Wiggins, Amy. Number of children and teens on anti-depressants doubles. New Zealand Herald. 7 June 2017: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11870484
(3) Twenge, Jean M. Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The Atlantic. September 2017: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/
(4) Rix G and Bernay R (2014) A study of the effects of mindfulness in five primary schools in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, Volume 11, Issue 2, 201-220.
(5) Devcich D A, Rix G, Bernay R & Graham E (2017). Effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program on school children’s self-reported well-being: A pilot study comparing effects with an emotional literacy program. Journal of Applied School Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15377903.2017.1316333
(6) Bernay R, Esther Graham, Daniel A. Devcich, Grant Rix & Christine M. Rubie-Davies (2016): Pause, Breathe, Smile: a mixed-methods study of student wellbeing following participation in an eight-week, locally developed mindfulness program in three New Zealand schools, Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, DOI:10.1080/1754730X.2016.1154474.
(7) Zenner C, Herrnleben-Kurz S and Walach H (2014) Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5:603. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603