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Schools in England Introduce a New Subject: Mindfulness (nytimes.com)
108 points by donum 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

My daughters homework for each day this week is :

1. Talk about your feelings.

2. Do something you are good at.

3. Keep yourself hydrated.

4. Eat well.

5. Keep active in mind and body.

6. Take a break.

7. Stay connected to those you care about.

8. Ask for help.

9. Be proud of your very being.

10. Actively care for others.

She has a chart she needs to tick once she has achieved each item.

I get that they are all good things to do and perhaps it provides a talking point in families where these things aren't considered, but it seems a bit much to throw it all in at once. Next week she will probably be back to learning her 3 times tables..

How do they teach your daughter to translate these principles to practical actions? For example how does your daugher understand "Eat well" to mean in terms of actual food she happens to crave (cookies, ice cream, plants, meat, etc.)? If they are going EAT-Lancet style on her you should probably be concerned.

I will be asking her what they are teaching her over the week.

I am struggling to find any coherent solid information about what the EAT-Lancet diet actually is, or why it is bad. It looks like a load of politically motivated mumbo jumbo! Would you be able to summarise?

It is a vegan-inspired/ anti-meat diet (similar to Canada's New Food Guide), backed by the processed food industry, but with plenty of issues which are neatly summarized by Georgia Ede here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/diagnosis-diet/20190...

From the linked article:

"2. Red meat causes heart disease, diabetes, cancer... and spontaneous combustion

The section of the report dedicated to protein blames red meat for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and early death. It contains 16 references, and every single one is an epidemiological study. The World Health Organization report tying red meat to colon cancer was also mentioned, and that report is almost entirely based on epidemiology as well. [Read my full analysis of the WHO report here.] The truth is that there is no human clinical trial evidence tying red meat to any health problem. I certainly haven’t found any — and if there were, I think this Commission surely would have mentioned it."

Are we supposed to take this seriously?

Do you have anything valuable to say in response to that?

Sorry, but this article is junk science, at best.

Who is this curious voice in the field of nutritional science that singlehandedly dismisses decades of epidemiological science on nutrition and diet putting her at odds with virtually the entire scientific field, such as Harvard, (e.g., Framingham Study, Harvard Nurses study and the L-Carnitine Study), Oxford (dozens of longitudinal studies, such as the Epic Oxford Study led by Professor Tim Keys) as well as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environmental Program, Lancet of course and many, many others.

”I became interested in nutrition after discovering a new way of eating that completely reversed a number of perplexing health problems I had developed in my early 40′s, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and IBS. This experience led me on a quest to understand why the unorthodox diet that restored my own health is so different from the low-fat, high-fiber, plant-based diet we are taught is healthy. It turns out that nutrition is not rocket science; if you understand how food works, it all makes sense.”

From the author's biography. Sounds solid.

> Sorry, but this article is junk science, at best.

Au contraire it exposes the junk sciences (including epidemiology to establish causation) used by EAT-Lancet to further their agenda.

> Who is this curious voice [...] From the author's biography. Sounds solid.

Instead of fervently trying to discredit the author, and then proceed to name-drop to buttress your borrowed beliefs, try to focus on what she actually says.

> epidemiological science [...] virtually the entire scientific field [... name-dropping snipped ...]

Nutrition epidemiology studies are not scientific experiments; they are wildly inaccurate, questionnaire-based guesses (hypotheses) about the possible connections between foods and diseases. This approach has been widely criticized as scientifically invalid [see here(1) and here(2)], yet continues to be used by influential researchers at prestigious institutions.

Even if you think epidemiological methods are sound, at best they can only generate hypotheses that then need to be tested in clinical trials. Instead, these hypotheses are often prematurely trumpeted to the public as implicit fact in the form of media headlines, dietary guidelines, and well-placed commission reports like this one.

Tragically, more than 80%(3) of these guesses are later proved wrong in clinical trials. With a failure rate this high, nutrition epidemiologists would be better off flipping a coin to decide which foods cause human disease.

(1) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2018.00105... (2) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2698337 (3) https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1740-...

Thanks. I would tweak that diet slightly. Drop the whole grains by an order of magnitude, up the vegetables as much as possible, and increase the lard/tallow to make up the rest. I do agree that we probably eat more meat that we should, but it does look like they are swinging the other way here. How much is 15 calories of beef? About a spooful?

> I do agree that we probably eat more meat that we should, but it does look like they are swinging the other way here.

Meat is actually nutritious and healthy. You can read the details in the following link: http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/foods/

(I personally am on the carnivore diet).

Personally, I try to eat as wide a variety of foods as possible (that includes cheesecake!) I don't find just limiting myself to meat, or just to vegetables, or indeed just to cheesecake to be appealing.

I do it to cure (99%) a chronic condition (and it remains to be seen whether my gut will heal enough to allow old foods back). If I had a choice, I'd be eating a meat-based diet with rice and ice cream!

I would argue that most of those things should come naturally, they should not be homework. Maybe on one day, you need less food, maybe another day your body needs rest. Being proud is beyond everything :D

My five year-old son now talks about his mind in the third person as a result of this. I'm having to retrain him with responsibility for his own actions.

Lovely idea and all but having untrained people teaching psychological practices to reception-grade children seems rather foolhardy to me.

That's a fair point; while mental health wasn't a class in my country, I've also found that these "extra" classes often suffered from giving them to random teachers. Just because they have some experience (and possibly a minor degree) in pedagogy doesn't mean they can teach every subject. Many here can barely teach their specialty.

Why is that a bad thing? If they can evaluate their thought process at such a young age, I would think that's a win.

Are they evaluating their thought processes, or are they parroting what they were taught while still being, you know, five years old?

I would be more worried if they begin absolving themselves of guilt due to this when they do something genuinely harmful to someone else out of childish behavior.

That seems like a fairly healthy thing to learn, no?

Sometimes we need to acknowledge that our brain can cause us to do things we don't want to, and not beat ourselves up for it. Obviously that can go too far, and you need to anticipate the consequences of your actions, owning your conscious decisions.

Teaching someone to act socially mature without understanding why is like teaching someone to pass a test without understanding the material.

Seems like schools are becoming experts at creating fakes.

I don't know where you get this idea from? Where does it say that schools are teaching kids to act socially mature without understanding why?

Mindfulness if taught well should provide the opposite. It gives you a framework to understand your thoughts and emotions and act in a more rational, thoughtful way. It's not a way of abdicating responsibility - just the opposite.

Maturation is a process one learns by experience. Faking the result skips the reasons. Granted it makes people more palatable to be around but the lessons why are lost.

Some things can only be learned by experience.

What does this mean: "Sometimes we need to acknowledge that our brain can cause us to do things we don't want to"?

Surely you mean "sometimes we do things we don't want to be doing"? Blaming it on your mind is rather strange. Your mind is part of you.

That's because you also talk about your mind in the third person and not aware of it. You are consistently talking to yourself in your mind throughout the entire day. (Try to stop it if you don't believe this is true and exactly this is what you are trying to stop with mindfulness)

Your child clearly understands the situation better. I recommend you take up mindfulness meditation as well.

My issue isn't with teaching mindfulness, it's with unqualified people teaching mindfulness badly to five year old children.

I think schools should teach one more thing: non-violent communication and related things: not-neediness, how to communicate feelings and needs, how to avoid shaming and guilt-tripping, how to ask and be fine with rejections, how to understand that other people may have different goals and motivations, etc.

- Marshall B. Rosenberg, "Non-Violent Communication" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/560861.Non_Violent_Commu...

Moreover, it may change the society (so its benefits don't stop at an individual level) - as a lot of problems stem from conflicts that escalate step by step.

If we start the "what else" branch, it's almost infinite.

For example, the ways to manipulate people and how to protect oneself (e.g. according to Cialdini's classification, but not necessarily).

How to develop critical thinking in a world where most communication is aimed at influencing you in one way or another.

How to develop elasticity and the skill to adapt to ever-changing circumstances (hint: the world they will be living in will be very different from the one they're taught about at school, I think we all experienced it at some point).

How to understand the conditioning of the society and the culture we're living in (e.g. the roles of the husband/wife, parent/child, family member, colleague, boss) and learn to live with them without getting too serious about them (and save a few bucks on psychotherapy later).

How to save money. Only those few who care about you will teach you how to save money, everyone else wants you to spend your money. Etc. etc.

My child is doing this; I've seen two situations where it was a help.

- I took a chunk out of myself with an axe (idiot, tired, low blood sugar tomfoolery); I got coached to calm down, and "this is a good opportunity to practice mindfulness" was quoted at me. It was surprisingly helpful actually :)

- We stayed with some friends and one of their children had a typical 10yrld meltdown (over xbox); my child took themselves off to another room and practiced mindfulness to avoid getting upset.

So, it appears to be rubbish, but in practice seems to give tools that work, at least a bit!

I really struggle with the term "mindfulness" as it seems it can mean anything and everything, depending on who you ask. We had some Mindfulness workshops at a previous employer and it was so full of woo and magical thinking that it really turned me off and felt like a huge waste of time.

My current company also recently introduced a Mindfulness workshop only this time it was really a basic meditation workshop which I enjoyed.

At this point, I don't even know how to react when something related to Mindfulness is announced.

You might want to peruse some of the research on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy; there's reasonably good evidence that it outperforms conventional CBT for patients with chronic or recurrent depression or chronic pain. There are also some interesting neuroimaging studies that suggest that regular meditators have increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and reduced activity in the amygdala, which are both associated with psychological wellbeing.

Mindfulness is simply the practice of awareness, which encompasses a wide range of activities. The classic example is awareness of the breath - noticing the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation, noticing the sensation of air passing through your trachea, noticing when your attention wanders away from your breath and noticing how your focus returns to it. A technique often used with pain and anxiety patients is body-scan mindfulness - carefully notice the sensations in the soles of the feet, then the ankles, then the calves etc. You might notice and categorise your subjective experience in real time - this is a thought, this is a memory, this is a physical sensation.

Mindfulness has become a bit of a fad and is often poorly taught by inexperienced bandwagon-jumpers, which is unfortunate for a practice that pre-dates Christianity by several hundred years. If it does interest you, I'd suggest just trying it out, because it's sort of impossible to meaningfully communicate the subjective experience of mindfulness. Read Mindfulness for Beginners by John Kabat-Zinn or Mindfulness: A Practical Guide by Mark Williams, set aside fifteen minutes a day to practice and stick with it for a month.

> My current company also recently introduced a Mindfulness workshop only this time it was really a basic meditation workshop which I enjoyed.

I find it extremely weird for companies to offer these things. The only reason they'd do it is to boost their own productivity / margin / whatever. As in "be healthy because we need your ass on that chair and your brain working on our problems".

There is already a thin enough line between personal and professional life.


In both cases, it was pitched as a way to be more focused, purposeful, and satisfied at work.

In general, I think it makes sense for companies to promote activities that they believe will help employees to be happy and healthy. Happy workers are generally more productive.

I want to be healthy. My employer needs me to be healthy. My employer is willing to pay for some of it. Where's the problem?

You're free to see it how you like.

I personally see it as one step in the direction of work totalitarianism where everything you do is thoroughly designed for workplace productivity.

I have no doubt that if megacorps started to build bedrooms in their offices (even with bunkbeds) and offered them for free a lot of people would gladly move in there permanently without even thinking about the big picture.

But again, you do you, and you set your own boundaries.

A loss of healthy boundaries. My employer is not a parent, and even if it were, I'm beyond the age where that level of input from a parent is healthy.

Sounds like you had a bad workshop the first time round. Mindfulness should be rational, scientific and entirely free of woo or magical thinking.

These days the word is used so frequently that it seems to include everything and is almost meaningless.

I can only agree with you 100%. However, it seems this is not a universal view.

Recently I have been bombarded by ads for some mindfulness app on youtube. All of their ads talk about ancient aliens and crystals, whereas the application presents itself as a yoga and meditation thing. The content has both.

I guess that for some reason the target audiences overlap enough that bundling the woo and meditation makes some economical sense.


disclaimer: I've been involved in https://www.rulerapproach.org/ (as part of the development team from www.camplight.net)

It's interesting that the news release from gov.uk[1] focuses that they are doing one of the largest studies in the world with 370 schools... Looking today at our RULER statistics we now have almost ~900 enlisted USA schools.

Combining those will definitely become one of the largest, unless there's something similar in other parts of the world :O Have anybody heard something like this in other countries?

I hope all these initiatives lead to less bullying and aggressive behavior :))

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/one-of-the-largest-mental...

I've had a lot of experience with schools and mental health issues. I have a daughter under an EHCP due to a genetic problem that causes learning difficulties and the competence is simply not there to handle even basic care in this aspect. This isn't budgetary or process related, but individual human competence is beyond terrible. This spans three "Ofsted outstanding" rated schools and two local authorities. It has got to the point that there are actually specialist charities set up to whack the schools back into place legally when they screw up over and over again.

And we're trusting them with handling general mental health? What could possibly go wrong?

Mindfulness is such a vague concept that it detatches the responsibility from mental health as well.

Ah, it sounds like a rebranded "Personal Development Education". Having being introduced to it from secondary school onwards, it was always a pleasure to have a double period of PDE at the end of the day. Zero study involved. No real homework. If we were lucky they'd roll out the big telly and an old tape about bullying or hormones. Even when they put it before the first bell, it worked out well as a place to do your maths homework.

Probably for the best they're starting younger these days. They might find real buy-in from actual children.

I'm always puzzled with the fact that people search for surrogate solutions instead of pursuing the real issue.

If you don't feel well there is so much you can do. Make serious effort in making friends, join a sports club or something else you like, solve long running conflicts with other people, don't over- or under achieve on a level which doesn't fit you (school/work), be proud with the things you accomplish instead of never being satisfied, etc...

Perhaps it just seems easier to buy another self-help book, and take a mindfulness class.

Mental ill health is a leading cause of death worldwide. It leads to more years lost to disabiity than anything else. It's a significant cause of absence from work.

If the cure was so fucking simple don't you think people would have tried it?

The worst thing about HN is people who do not know what they're talking about chipping in with their facile half-witted suggestions for what they reckon.

But "practicing mindfulness" is suggesting the cure is easy (pretty sure the science is shaky, at least positive thinking isn't proven to work?).

Actually working on issues might work better, and might also not be easy.

>But "practicing mindfulness" is suggesting the cure is easy

Not really, no. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a fairly popular psychotherapeutic approach that makes use of mindfulness. The objective of ACT is to move patients towards valued behaviour and a meaningful life. In order to achieve that, it uses mindfulness practice to facilitate acceptance of distressing internal experiences and re-orient the patient towards the present moment.

It's very easy to say "just do stuff that matters to you", but there are all sorts of internal obstacles to that. Some people are very anxious and find it more comfortable to avoid new experiences, even if those experiences might ultimately be rewarding. Some people are lacking in confidence and assume that they'll fail at anything they try. Some people are so overwhelmed by emotional pain that they struggle to just get out of bed in the morning. Some people are stuck in self-destructive habits that temporarily soothe their distress but worsen the circumstances that contribute to their distress.

Mindfulness doesn't fix a crappy life, but it's a useful tool. If you can observe your anxious thoughts as just thoughts passing through your mind, you might give them a bit less credence. If you can learn to sit with your distress and tolerate it, you might be a bit less likely to have that drink or distract yourself with a video game or cut your wrists. If you can learn to focus more on the present moment, you might worry a bit less about whether you'll succeed or fail and take a bit more pleasure in the experience of trying.

There's a good bit of evidence that MBSR works.

Replicated, too?

But those solutions are often the barrier that people are trying to overcome. Due to things like anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism etc. that may be mild forms which are undiagnosed which hinder your interactions with others and the way you perceive your very identity and inability to perceive how others see you. These are not always overt feelings that you feel per se, they can be subtle, in the background of your mind like a gnawing feeling that convinces you don't deserve those things you listed or the ideal scenario someone has in their head is unattainable. And ofcourse severe cases are much worse.

Mindfulness, and Meditation by association, are the ways to identify the reoccurring thoughts and feelings, learning how to live with (not deal with or cure) them is key.

But hang on - there ARE serious problems in our society, culture and economy that need solving, and wishing them away or cloaking yourself in a blanket of warm feelings isn't going to change them, is it?

It is going to solve acute problem of you personally being negatively affected by stress.

Yet evolution teaches us that humans are hardwired to learn from negative events. In fact positive events tend to create addictions... or religions.

There's a lot of evidence that mindfulness based stress reduction works, with somewhat weaker evidence for other applications of mindfulness. There's little evidence for self-help books or your 'just feel better' approach, though.

I would see it the other way around: To me the real issue is that our minds have a tendency to create a lot of unnecessary stress for ourselves and make us focus on goals that are unlikely to produce any lasting happiness, like constantly striving for new achievements.

Meditation, at least some forms of it, are attacking this particular problem at the source and try to help people let go of these mental habits. I get the converse feeling that hobbies / meeting up with friends / putting a lot of effort into work are engaging, but they also feel like pleasant distractions instead of addressing what I see as the real underlying issue. This is highly subjective and depends on on what ones wants to do with one's life, but meditation certainly isn't a surrogate solution to me.

I agree problems need to be tackled at the source, but some self-help books may help you deal with the problem. 12 Rules for Life is one such book.

12 Rules for life is a complete mess of strangely used bible quotes, misattributed and misquoted philosophers, at one point blatant rape apology, and an obvious lack of empathy from the author throughout.

But one thing is does do well that I wish people would focus on over the obvious shortcomings of the author and why nothing has really replaced it yet is that it tells you in no uncertain terms that if you want to go anywhere or have any confidence in yourself you have to acknowledge that you live in a system that isn't always fair and try to make it work for you, paralysis will get you nowhere.

> 12 Rules for life is a complete mess of strangely used bible quotes, misattributed and misquoted philosophers

Can you be more specific with the misquoted and misattributed philosophers?

Not specific to philosophers, but Contrapoints has a good breakdown of why the term "postmodern neo-marxists", which JBP uses a number of times throughout the book, shows a complete misunderstanding of modern philosophy. [1]

Not related to 12 rules, but Cuck Philosophy goes into JBP's lectures where he references postmodernism and again appears to completely misunderstand the fundamentals. [2]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LqZdkkBDas (probably NSFW)

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU1LhcEh8Ms

yes you're right, some books can really be insightful, I've read some myself :)

Unfortunately I see people around me who drown in the therapy/self-help circuit. A lot of money is involved, and they keep running in circles. It seems to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

If you spend to much time reflecting on your life, it becomes part of your life which prevents you from really living. Before saying anymore clichés I'll stop, and go do something :)

I think this makes perfect sense. Good one from the Buddhists this one. It's all about making the children stronger, tougher and more aware of them self and people around them. How they affect the world and how the world affects them. If the world is mean, harsh or tough, they are already capable to handle them self.

One can also as an adult start practicing this. Can be quite exhilarating.

Here is a good book on the subject https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miracle-Mindfulness-Gift-classic-re...

About time for mindfulness to actually be a thing. Waiting for a time where people are at least exposed to the idea of mindfulness, whether they continue to practice it, is their choice. A subject in school is the best way to achieve this.

For adults, if one thinks that they are already super happy and self-realised, it still makes sense to try out the techniques of mindfulness just with a consideration that they "could" be even more so. They "could" be missing an entirely different dimension.

Personal experience: Up till the age of 21, I was enjoying my life, doing well, fooling myself that I am the happiest I can be. That's when I took this course in IIT Madras called Self Awareness [1]. I had taken it because people said they always give good grades. The course caused a massive self-discovery for me. It was all and all about mindfulness. The teachings were mainly from the books: `Siddhartha` [2], `The power of now` [3] and `Stop sleep walking through life` [4]. They introduced us to relaxing exercises, meditation and breathing techniques along with some ideas to watch yourself while you are getting emotionally vulnerable. Briefly, the course was about being conscious of your existence, about feeling one with the present and about figuring yourself out for real. It has been 4 years since and I can clearly see that I am a different person, I have much less fights, I am rarely depressed, I handle criticism much better, I am much more productive in my work and most important of all, I have the clarity about who I am.

Sucks to think that I wouldn't have known (never mind achieved) all this if it weren't for a mindfulness course. Props to the schools in England for this initiative.

[1] https://courses.iitm.ac.in/course/info.php?id=849 [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_(novel) [3] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6708.The_Power_of_Now [4] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/258519.Stop_Sleep_Walkin...

Making it a subject removes that "choice" you talk about and makes it mandatory.

"children and teenagers struggling to get to grips with how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world"

Isn't that basically the job of children, and has always been?

Not to denounce the efforts to improve their mental health. Just saying some struggle seems normal and unavoidable, probably even necessary.

Mindfullness doesn't aim to eliminate struggle. Children still have to sit exams; they still have chances to enter competition. And mindfulness won't, for example, remove a child from poverty.

What it might do is stop children killing themselves as a result of adversity.

Rates of death by suicide in the UK have been declining recently, but not for young people. We also know that rates of self-harm for young people are increasing, and self harm is a significant predictor of death by suicide.

I must admit, I don't see how positive thinking could possibly help?

Assuming suicides are usually a result of violence (bullying by peers, pressure by parents and teachers...). Wouldn't it be better to show practical ways out of it? Saying "I'm so great and thankful" while bullies pounce on you might feel rather hollow quickly?

Don't get me wrong, this seems to be set up as an experiment, which seems like a good thing. Maybe they'll find it will actually help.

Your argument sounds like "something has to be done, because..." - but something is not always the right thing.

Not unrelatedly - another story on the front page today:

    The Decline of Historical Thinking
Mindfulness is not new, it's just the word that is new.

Great, except that we have gone so test crazy 5 year olds are getting homework in the UK and being trained for exams.

>“Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being and happiness right from the start of primary school,” he added.

Why wouldn't adults just solve their mental problems instead of introducing them to children? Children have no problems with happiness or well-being. It's us who should learn from them.

big facepalm

> Children have no problems with happiness or well-being.

This seems rather naive to me. Unhappiness is far from absent from the lives of many children and young people, and social media is making it worse. See yesterday's yougov survey results that indicate that "18% of young people in UK do not think life is worth living" [1].

This new curriculum subject is about helping children to understand and navigate their own feelings and deal with stresses so that they are less likely to turn into messed-up teenagers and adults. As a parent of school-age children I think this is an entirely good thing.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/05/youth-unhapp...

I spent most of my early childhood in a grimiest, gloomiest, dying city on Russian/Chinese border. From the age of 12 or so, I lived with one goal - get out of there. I had no time for stupid psychologising, nor could've imagined anybody living in glitzy cities of the West to be so dumb to waste time on that.

There were times I almost worshipped that imaginary version of Western culture I had with it being all about action, forward movement and unending progress. Once I finally got myself out of Russia, I was up for a big, big surprise... West had idleness as its second nature...

> West had idleness as its second nature...

I'm sorry that you had to deal with those things as a child, but I'm not sure what you're saying here. That children in the west are soft due to insufficient adversity?

Mental health is not something that's "so dumb to waste time on". Maybe you are tough enough to take what life throws at you, or maybe you just think you are. But I've been around long enough to know that people can be broken-down by events in even an ordinary life - and children need kindness and support just as much as they need challenge and the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

If I've misunderstood then please feel free to explain more.

Purposeful pursuit of idle life should not be thought as a virtue. Not for young men in their prime, without a family.

I admit, I am a bit envious of other men of my age who managed to get that "settled down slow life" with happy family, but even at that stage in life, that "idleness" only comes as a great reward for years of work, and raising a child is a no joke effort.

>The initiative comes months after a survey commissioned by the National Health Service found that one in eight children in England between the ages of 5 and 19 suffered from at least one mental disorder at the time of their assessment in 2017.

>The survey, which was published in November, also indicated a slight increase in mental disorders in five to 15-year-olds, which rose to 11.2 percent in 2017 from 9.7 percent in 1999. Disorders like anxiety and depression were the most common, affecting one in 12 children and early adolescents in 2017, and appeared more often in girls.

Have it ever occurred to you that adults have mental problems because they didn't learn to manage it as children and young adults?

Besides, depression and anxiety is surprisingly common among children.

>Besides, depression and anxiety is surprisingly common among children.

Whom do you think they learned this from? Trees or cats?

Even assuming depression must be "learned", what does it matter? School can't make sure they're never around depressed people. But it can help them protect themselves from it.

You will meet all kinds of people that's true, but it worth decreasing the amount.

How do you suggest the schools help with that?

Other kids? Childhood bullying is very, very common, and is a big driver of this sort of thing. Social media may have made this even worse, but it's always been a thing.

It's not learned. It happens because other children are cruel, we do not prioritize healthy environment for them, and because there is an enormous pressure from social media from a young age.

> Whom do you think they learned this from?

I suspect that in a non-ignorable number of cases, "no one", because it's entirely possible their brain chemistry is just screwy.

No-one credible uses brain chemistry as an explanation for depression (unless you're talking about bi-polar). The emphasis is on the psycho-social bit of bio-psycho-social.

> No-one credible uses brain chemistry as an explanation for depression

Presumably you're missing a "sole" before explanation there?

Because brain chemistry certainly seems to be definitely regarded as at least holding a coat even if it's not actively swinging punches.

A society that promotes mainly unachievable levels of success, beauty, wealth, and influence?

It isnt unachievable, it is achievable by just enough you think you have a chance.

Like lottery :)

You are asserting that depression is a learned behaviour?

They're probably also the kind of person who tells depressed people to "cheer up, life's not all that bad after all!"

I've seen a few posts like that in this comment section so far.

Obligatory Reddit link: https://www.reddit.com/r/wowthanksimcured

"Homeless Chicago man suffering from hypothermia makes miraculous recovery after someone from Wisconsin informs him 'it's actually much colder where I'm from'"

Depending on a situation I can do that as well. I do not exclude any possibility, what will work - I will do. Whatever "kinds" of people you invented - this is only your own problem.

Not that it can not happen by itself, it's just seeing it around inclines you towards it.

> Children have no problems with happiness or well-being.

Have you ever met a child IRL?

In my experience kids, until a certain age, run around, scream, shout, full of excitement, happiness, and life.

But once they start looking at adults - all they see only dark, gloomy, lifeless serious faces and so they start becoming the same.

If adults want to do something about it - we should teach happiness ourselves first. Kids will follow automagically.

If you've never seen a depressed child then I beg you to pay attention. Children have incredibly complex, fascinating and perceptive minds, they aren't just happy food processing automata until they reach puberty.

It's exactly this kind of reductionism which leads parents to ignore their children's psychological needs, which leads to schools having to take action.

>just happy food processing automata until they reach puberty

I did not say that. As I don't think that imposing complexity of mental bullshit from adult's minds on children makes things any better.

"But once they start looking at adults"

I suspect one of the biggest sources of misery for a lot of kids are other kids.

Certainly for me it was, compounded by adults not taking this seriously (and a certain amount of screwy brain chemistry.)

If your parent is a teacher at the same school, your school life is going to be A+ miserable.

I don't think its just adults not taking it seriously in some quarters its surprisingly common for adults to use the "man up" or "stiff upper lip" approaches for physical or mental pain.

Are you suggesting we shouldn't teach mindfulness to children? That it's not a useful skill? That the time would be wasted?

>“It’s not just to make them feel better in the short-term,” Dr. Deighton said, “but to better equip them for later in life.”

I think if needed it can be learned later, I don't see any problem with that. I started being interested in meditation around 23 when I was on the very bottom of my emotional state.

But I see that most people around me never experienced this and for them, meditation and yoga is an exotic exercise.

One thing which I really don't like here is instead of giving kids free time to experience life themselves they will add one more boring official class.

> One thing which I really don't like here is instead of giving kids free time to experience life themselves they will add one more boring official class.

Being perpetually 'busy' and treating life as a collection of planned activities, like homework, classes, courses, workshops, appointments, etc. is something that runs deep in our entire (Western?) society, whether school-going or working age.

Mindfulness as yet another one of those activities feels uncomfortably like a band-aid solution that is dangerous precisely because it works.

It's a bit like taking aspirin to deal with headaches when really you should just stop drinking so much coffee and working so much.

I do think mindfulness can be more than that. I've experienced how beneficial it can be to make it part of life rather than just (or only) another planned activity, especially when it's a part or underpinning of a larger 'framework' (in my case I lean towards Zen Buddhism).

Mindfulness is branded wrong.

Sceptics see it as (a) Some yoga-style mystic silliness reasonable people have been ignoring for decades, and (b) A 2014 self-help book, a fad-prone genre with relatively little credibility.

If the common sense ideas underlying mindfulness were given a different coat of paint, they might be more readily accepted.

I don't think that children who have problems with happiness or well-being will be helped by teaching them mindfulness.

I was a lucky kid, but those around me who had problems had them because they were excluded from groups, got parents divorced, were bullied or were simply spoiled by their parents and were unhappy if anything didn't go their way. Telling them to be mindful is straight out of Voltaire's Candide.

The major application of mindfulness for which there is actually evidence is stress/anxiety reduction. This would obviously be useful for kids who are bullied and/or have bad home environments.

News articles don't stop at the title. The classes involve more than just "telling them to be mindful".

I'm no mental health expert but isn't mindfulness a proven method for improving one's mental health?

Schools can't fix dysfunctional families. All they can do is give kids some tools to cope with such challenges. Even if it doesn't help a particular child, why would it be wrong to at least try?

You were a very lucky child then :)

Edit: Apologies for the sarcastic response, couldn't help it. Children can and do feel unhappy, some more than others. This feels like an amazing step in the right direction because many people (myself included) don't learn early on that feeling sad or overwhelmed is normal and ok. We strive to "feel good" and stress about it, without tools to cope. Most adults either ignore this or go to therapy, but maybe from now on people will be more prepared.

>many people (myself included) don't learn early on that feeling sad or overwhelmed is normal and ok

Until someone told you what is normal and what is not you have no problems doing something. So it's not about being sad is ok, it's about not judging at all.

I think this topic is too complicated to discuss over text like this.

I agree with you, I’m sure we think similarly, and it seems like talking to children about mindfulness could be amazing.

I fear that many schools/teachers won’t do a good job at it, judging exclusively from my own experience back in school... but that’s a different issue.

Yes, in an utopia, this class may be useless.

There are still many places on a planet where kids are not burdened by depression and sadness. It happens to them as well, of course, but not in any extraordinary amounts.

Most kids in the UK don't need to know multiplication to get their basics fulfilled either. Most of schooling is about preparing them for the future, not for the present. But some will benefit sooner, and you can't always tell which ones.

You're gatekeeping metal health problems.

In my experience most things which people call "mental problems" are caused by themselves. And the solution is to stop causing them, not to learn how to "manage" with them.

"I don't know anything about zoology, biology, geology, geography, marine biology, crypto zoology, evolutionary theory, evolutionary biology, meteorology, liminology, history, herpatology, paleontology, or archeology, but I think ..."


This is a subject where you don't need to know (intellectually), the experience is more important. Do you "know" joy better by experiencing it or by learning from a textbook or a school class?

I think your hypothesis here is that the mental health issues, unhappiness and issues with well-being can be fixed completly from the society.

I disagree with it. I prefer to look at them somehow like I see bugs: they cannot be - in general - eliminated completely. They come with the process of people building products.

So I don't think we can solve those completely. This is why I think we should start educating children about how to think about live.

Maybe an inspiration from philosophy stage from Ancient time which originally I think was concerned (at least some of them) with how a life should be lived, what happiness means, what does it mean to be a homo sapiens ...

I think we should approach this as a society and start offering children tools about how to approach this.

> Children have no problems with happiness or well-being

How about children who are repeatedly raped by their parent? Are they happy?

How about children who's parent has died? Are they happy?

What about the children who are grappling with gender indentity or sexuality (and maybe with parents who are not supportive)? Are they happy?

What about children living with disability and who are being bullied because of it? Are they happy?

The problems you mentioned, while being a completely different matter, will not (and should not) be solved by mindfulness anyway.

You are exactly approving my point that it's the adults who need to solve their problems (on different levels) first.

> Children have no problems with happiness or well-being

I'm happy for your past self, but your experience is not universal. Many people as children and teenagers have problems with these things. Its hard to take action to work on these without having a mental framework to organise your thoughts and communicate about them.

>Many people as children and teenagers have problems with these things

So there will be an experience of some "negative" states of mind and emotion, but to become a problem it needs support. Removing this support is what I'm talking about. In a form that adults should be a live example that "negative" things happen but do not grow into problems.

> Why wouldn't adults just solve their mental problems instead of introducing them to children?

Because people live in an artificial world. In the absence of real problems everything is emotionally traumatic, first world problems.

As I sit next to a war on a military deployment I await people to prove me right with the sadness of their downvotes.

My teenage brother just lost his father to cancer. But that's surely just a first-world problem.

That is a tragic event. Healthy people bounce back from trauma after a healing period. Healthy people aren't the ones in need of institutional self-awareness.

Conversely, do you have chronic income insecurity? Are you dodging bullets and bombs daily as some people do? Were you ever a victim of child slavery in a third-world nation? I suspect if you have internet access you probably have reliable shelter and don't stress over food insecurity. Those are real problems, and yet the people who live through those stressors typically aren't the ones needing mindfulness. The difference is a matter of perspective from perseverance. The lack of perseverance in normal childhood development is certainly a first-world problem.

Yes, I was forced to leave my home and sleep on friend's houses multiple times during my childhood; once, we were forced to leave by threat of force in the evening, and spend three months living on a floor mattress in another city. For a couple of years, I often struggled to fall asleep due to fear, not just for me but also for my younger brother - my chest would compress at every loud noise. Randomly crying when alone (particularly in the shower) was common during that time.

But no, I was never dodging bullets. I lived in a Western country and the assailant used other weapons and wasn't part of a paramilitarized group, so I guess it doesn't count.

That is a dreadful experience that will empower you in ways others can never understand or appreciate. I have tried to explain living like this to my kids in the past and they just look at me like I am stupid.

No, it won't. It screwed me up in ways I still haven't fully grasped, and has long term negative consequences in my life. And I certainly wished I had been more mentally prepared to handle its impact.

Which is why is fucking bothers me that you dismiss life for kids in the developed world as an "absence of real problems". Just because we're not scavenging for food, doesn't mean we don't have real problems.

Sure, thankfully many kids won't need that knowledge until they're older, if ever. But it's not always clear who will. My family certainly didn't meet the stereotype.

> And I certainly wished I had been more mentally prepared to handle its impact.

People are never properly prepared for tragedy. That is the difference between trauma and sadness. No less, these things happen. Trauma lives in the past. When you reflect on these past experiences they can define you or become you. That is the difficult choice you must confront when dwelling on these memories. With effort you can choose to let the pain of past memories go, if willing. The acceptance of such choices is the nature of perseverance.

You’re like the main character in Hurt Locker at the end of the movie. He has come home from deployment and is standing in a supermarket. The mundane, everyday reality of First World civilian life seems meaningless in contrast.

So he goes back for another deployment. Another deployment in a pointless and meaningless war, yet another racket that has everything to do with the interests of the powerful and nothing to do with sentimental crap like serving your country. But he feels that it is meaningful.

“War is a racket”

I don't disagree with you. Seeing civilians with real struggles in a world destroyed by years of warfare that would crush the soul of the average depressed American puts your own trivial problems in a completely different perspective, especially when they are happily making the best of their situation.

This is my fourth deployment. When I go back to my comfy civilian job as the elite senior developer it is a bit depressing seeing the things people complain about at the job.

As an example consider this scenario that I went through:

Another developer was telling me I was using the wrong IDE. I needed to be using Atom because it has the fantastic extension called Atom Beautify that beautifies a whole bunch of different languages with a huge ton of options. I guess he didn't realize I am a collaborator on the project and many of the supported languages are available because of my beautifier integrated into the extension. Then when I am leaving the company for this military separation I had to hear from my boss in the exit interview that some code I wrote months ago was horrid, because the other developers only know how to read OOP code (even though I provided extensive documentation). Nobody bothered to talk about it or explain their distaste. How am I supposed to process that?

I suggest you RTFA before facepalming.

It is as much about being literate in the issues as it is about solving them.

By being literate I will only learn from other people's experience. But I can only truly rely on my own experience.

That's so mixed up, I'm not sure where to start.

Should we learn Maths or English from experience? Without the literacy, we don't have the tools and terms to understand our experience. The early years are exactly the time to introduce them, since that is where our experiences have the most profound and long-lasting effect.

> Children have no problems with happiness or well-being.

Either you had a fairly idyllic life as a child of (more likely) you are looking at the past through rose tinted glasses (many people do this). Kids have problems.

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