18 Aug Mindfulness and meditation a strategy for teenage mental he…
Kristina Cavit is not naturally predisposed to mindfulness, but has turned her enthusiasm for it into a charity focused on mental health resilience aimed at under-privileged youth. Now she wants Government buy-in.
Concerns about stress levels for teenagers are driving calls to get mindfulness teaching into schools.
The Kindness Institute is pushing for some of the Government’s to take the idea of mindfulness in schools “seriously” as part of its Wellbeing budget.
Kristina Cavit is the founder of institute, which provides services aimed at improving the mental health resilience of rangatahi (youth) from under-privileged and marginalised backgrounds.
The group submitted to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry call ing for mindfulness education in schools – and Cavit said it was the biggest submission with 15,000 signatures.
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The Inquiry’s report acknowledged that mindfulness should be a part of a holistic approach to the nation’s well-being, and that part of that may include children.
“The intention’s there, to boost well-being … but I’m still waiting to see specifically what’s going to happen with that (Well-Being) Budget and where it’s going to go,” Cavit said.
“We were really pleased to see that mindfulness education was actually included in the report as a strategy that should be looked into. It is promising.
“Anything bureaucratic takes so much time, but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep fighting for our young people, so that we do have the resources that they deserve to learn these tools.”
But that didn’t mean she wasn’t aware of the perception that it’s all “woo-woo and kumbaya”.
“I can totally feel when [teachers] think mindfulness is bull … mindfulness is such a buzzword and people think it’s a fad, but it’s about figuring out what your mindfulness is.”
For the Cavit, mindfulness was a “daily practice to be kind to myself”.
PPTA president Jack Boyle said the principle of Tomorrow’s Schools was that the community could choose what it wanted and needed in its curriculum.
“If they said, hey, look, this is something we’d like, then absolutely.”
There was a “rather concerning” trend emerging that stress was becoming more and more of an issue for young people in New Zealand, he said.
“Having robust, well-tested approaches to mindfulness, spiritual health and … so on will continue to be key for schools. It’s a good thing, I think.
“As long as there’s buy-in, it can’t hurt.”
Secondary Principals Association (SPANZ) president and Onehunga High School principal Deirdre Shea had been involved with TKI and said they did some “great work” with young people.
The Government funding initiatives like TKI to support schools in implementing mindfulness education “made sense” to her.
Stress was a “very well documented” aspect of Kiwi teenagers’ lives, particularly from assessments and the “omnipresent nature” of the internet.
“It’s not for everybody – but schools are self-managing, so some may say this is not for us, others may say it is.”