A research study carried out by Cambridge showed that this technique helps students deal better with stress. The study involved over 600 Cambridge students and concluded that the introduction of an eight-week mindfulness course in UK universities could help improve mental illness, whilst improving overall wellbeing.
There has been a call to improve mental health in various sectors such as work and university, where people are finding it increasingly difficult to find help and support. University mental health services have seen a significant increase in demand, with the number of students accessing counselling growing by 50% between 2010 and 2015, exceeding growth in student numbers during the same period.
Mindfulness, a progressively prevalent method of training focusing on the present moment, which has been shown to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Primarily, there has been not been enough evidence to support the hypothesis.
The Cambridge students were randomly allocated to two groups. Both were offered access to the university’s colloquial support and therapy services, as well as NHS services. One of the two groups were offered the additional mindfulness course, which entailed of eight weekly, group-based sessions, plus home practice including reflection, “mindful walking” and “mindful eating”.
Researchers found the mindfulness participants were a third less likely to score above the threshold commonly regarded as meriting mental health support. Even during the most stressful period of the year, summer exams, distress scores for the mindfulness group fell below their baseline levels, as measured at the start of the study. The students without mindfulness training became increasingly stressed as the academic year progressed.