Mindfulness has always been an important part of the NELFT POD training in the UK and a component on which I believe there has not been so much emphasis in other trainings in various parts of the world.
Many of us were aware of Mindfulness as an approach and indeed it is much utilised in mental health services in the U.K. with service users and staff. There is considerable clinical evidence to support Mindfulness as an effective approach in the treatment of anxiety, depression and generalised psychological distress. In recent years there has been a growing body of evidence that confirms the approach as a helpful intervention in both physical and mental health. A number of randomised control trials have evidenced Mindfulness for alleviating anxiety, depression, psychosis and physical pain ( Hofmann et al., 2010; Khoury et al., 2013., Latham et al., 2013). It is now recommended as a standard treatment by a wide range of national and international treatment organisations including in the UK the National Institute for Health Care Excellence ( NICE).
It is also adopted in some teams within my own trust both community teams, wards and meetings often commence with a Mindfulness exercise led by a team member. The aim is to encourage both the service user and clinician to adopt Mindfulness as a daily practice in their own lives, I personally advise the use of a Mindfulness app called Insight Timer. We advise trainees to practice Mindfulness daily for a 100 days and if they miss a day they recommence the 100 days. We also suggest to service users that they start off their practice with a short 10 minute exercise as longer meditations are not helpful for trainees as they may find this initially discouraging to regular practice.
Mindfulness differs from the vast majority of interventions offered in the NHS in that clinicians cannot deliver mindfulness without possessing an understanding and degree of mindfulness themselves. This impacts on the service user and the clinician and there is considerable evidence to suggest that a knowledge of Mindfulness is beneficial to the clinician regardless of whether they are imparting the approach clinically. Mental health professionals are often under considerable personal stress and with over 2,000 mental health clinicians a month leaving services any approach that can alleviate stress is helpful on a personal and service level, in order to alleviate an array of emotional difficulties including depression, anxiety and burnout. Stress may also impact on cognitive abilities impacting on concentration, attention and decision making (Shapiro et al., 2007). There has also been research that indicates that there is a positive correlation between a level of clinical Mindfulness and the relationships the professional has with the service user, it effects the level of therapeutic engagement and subsequently the clinical outcomes. (Grepmair et al,. 2007)
I encourage service and clinicians users to play around with the Insight Timer App because there are features on the App that encourage users to develop a sense of a Mindfulness community, as they can contact users all over the world. They can have an awareness of others meditating at the same time and using one of the 10,000 talks and meditations uploaded on the site, the number of meditations are constantly growing. The guided talks ( sometimes purely music) are sorted under various headings, anxiety, depression, self development, sleep etc. and are of varying lengths from 3 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The guided talks also come in a variety of languages although they are predominantly in English and the feedback I get in relation to this app has been extremely positive.
Author Bio: Jane Hetherington, Principal Psychotherapist at KMPT and an employee at Early Intervention Services in Kent, has completed Open Dialogue course and will be a part of the new Open Dialogue Course. She is trained as an integrative psychotherapist and has experience working in primary care, substance misuse, and psychosis services. Here, she writes about a few psychotherapeutic theories.