The third evidence session of the APPG’s inquiry on well-being and policy was held on 9th April 2014 under the heading “Mindfulness in Health and Education”. While the previous session looked at well-being policy through the lens of particular policy problems, this session took as its starting point a potential policy solution – mindfulness programmes – and considered possible applications in health, education and other areas of policy.
Professor Willem Kuyken, Exeter University
Heema Shukla, Public Health England
Dr Jonty Heaversedge, BBC1’s Street Doctor
Richard Burnett, Mindfulness in Schools Project
Professor Katherine Weare, University of Exeter
Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College
Baroness Claire Tyler (chair), David Lammy MP, Helen Goodman MP, Martin Horwood MP, Chris Ruane MP
The session opened with a presentation from Professor Willem Kuyken introducing the concept of mindfulness and the evidence base on its benefits and applications. This was followed by two panel discussions, the first focussing on health policy, the second on education. Some key emerging themes were:
- Well-being must be seen as integral to core policy objectives in health and education, and not separate from them: mental health is inseparable from physical health, and children’s mental health and well-being is inseparable from their capacity to learn and achieve. A more holistic approach is needed.
- Implementing mindfulness in healthcare faces many familiar challenges for the wider well-being agenda: for instance, the difficulty of co-ordination between different actors, and the long-term and diffuse nature of the potential savings to the public purse.
- In both health and education, a key challenge for scaling up mindfulness programmes is building the stock of trained mindfulness teachers whilst maintaining standards. It was suggested that mindfulness should be included in teacher training and in medical students’ training as a matter of course – bearing in mind that mindfulness can benefit doctors and teachers as much as it can patients and pupils.