School-based mindfulness program and anxiety prevention in eighth graders: A randomized pilot study
Adolescence is a period marked by challenges, and an adolescent’s sensitivity to stress and anxiety can interfere with resilient coping. Educational leaders should consider mindfulness programs because they appear promising in preventing mental health issues in adolescents and are acceptable to youth from diverse backgrounds. The present randomized school-based pilot study addressed whether mindfulness was associated with preventing stress, anxiety, or depression, and whether resilience would increase in healthy eighth graders randomized to 8-sessions of a mindfulness program or a wait-list control group. Self-report measures of psychological functioning (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression, resilience) were completed before and after a mindfulness or wait-list control group. As expected, adolescent-reported anxiety did not increase from pre-to-post participation in the mindfulness group, but did in the control group, consistent with a prevention effect during a period that included standardized benchmark testing. Parent-reported adolescent emotional problems decreased from pre-to-post in the mindfulness and not control group, demonstrating an intervention effect. These findings add to the school-based mindfulness literature and suggest that engaging in mindfulness practices may provide support to adolescents during a critical period of change and growth. Implications for future mindfulness research with adolescents are discussed.