The number of children with mental health disorders is growing. Some of the latest figures reveal that almost 10% of children aged between 5 and 10 have a mental health disorder. In 5-to-19-year-olds, the number rises even more, to 1 in every 8 children.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, and like the figures overall, it’s on the rise. Between 2005 and 2017, emotional disorders in children, including depression, rose from 3.9% to 5.8%.
New polices and school-wide initiatives are helping to spread awareness of positive mental health, but could we be doing more? Relaxation and meditation are two well-known treatments for depression in adults, possibility suggesting that schools should adopt the same practices.
How Can Relaxation and Meditation Help with Depression?
Depression is a mental disorder that changes how a person thinks, feels, and acts. People with depression can have a low mood; they often have feelings of guilt, sadness, and a lack of self-esteem. Many people with depression can also lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed, have less energy and lower concentration.
The mental and physical symptoms of depression can drastically impact how a child feels about school, how they behave whilst at school, and how well they perform academically. While there are many treatments for depression, meditation and relaxation have been known to help relieve the symptoms of the mental disorder.
Research into meditation has found that it’s able to change two regions of the brain that are associated with depression; one that causes people to become overwhelmed with stress and another that reacts to the fear caused by stress. Meditation can help a person to sever the connection that links the two regions together, essentially helping them to ignore stress.
Other relaxation techniques, like exercise, can also help to treat depression by releasing endorphins. The positive benefits of exercise and the endorphin release can help to lower stress levels, prevent anxiety and depression, and improve mood overall. Meditation also releases endorphins and serotonin, to improve mood, as well as enhancing memory and brain function.
Are Relaxation and Meditation Classes Feasible?
Meditation and other relaxation techniques can have a very positive impact on preventing, controlling, and treating mental health disorders like depression. In some ways, school curriculums already offer relaxation lessons, in the form of physical education; like any type of excercise, this can help children with depression.
Some schools have also introduced elements of mindfulness and meditation into the curriculum. The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) has been helping primary and secondary schools to create programmes for mindfulness since 2009. So far, the charity has helped introduce 350,000 pupils to mindfulness programmes.
Physical education has been on the curriculum for a very long time, and the with the recent success of programmes, like those run by MiSP, it shows that relaxation and meditation are feasible in schools. While the concept is possible and there’s plenty of evidence to back-up the idea, so far, widespread adoption of meditation has evaded schools in the UK.