Feeling Calm. Mindfulness & Meditation Apps – review

A 2015 review of mindfulness-based apps found 560 apps available on Apple products (Mani et al.,2015). That number would increase substantially if Android apps and those released since 2015 were included. It is obvious that mindfulness and meditation (guided or independent) are trending in a big way.

Apps 1

Evidence from the field of mindfulness suggests that mindfulness interventions can improve physical and mental health outcomes (Khoury et al., 2013). Mindfulness based approaches are used in clinical practice, schools, workplaces, prisons and the military (Creswell, 2017). Mindfulness interventions used in research studies and interventions often have mindfulness meditation practice or mindfulness components, but some only have informal mindfulness practice.  It is important to be aware that many mindfulness apps are using this evidence base to suggest that their app is “based on scientific research”. However, the research does not often use app technology as the intervention, and therefore the evidence base does not necessarily support the specific app. Some apps (e.g. ‘Craving to Quit’ and a mindful eating app called “Eat Right: Now!”) were put through clinical trials and studies before they were brought to market. Ideally, all apps claiming to benefit people’s well-being would be put through rigorous, scientific trials before being released to the general population. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case with the apps available. Therefore, it is important to check out the claims of the app before signing up to any subscriptions.

Apps 2

Teaching mindfulness and meditation strategies is not a magic wand. People usually feel stress and anxiety as a result of difficult situations in their environment. It is easy to think ‘I’m not coping well’ or ‘I’m not good at managing stress’ and try to find a solution that involves the individual learning ‘skills’ e.g. calming strategies, anger management etc. However, it is important to be careful not to ‘blame’ the individual for their emotional and psychological responses as a ‘lack of skills’. There are often environmental and social factors that could be causing significant stress, anxiety, worry or other mental health difficulties. The environment and social situations of individuals must also be taken into account and changes made where necessary to reduce the factors that are causing the stress, anxiety etc. in the first place.

If practicing mindfulness is your goal; here’s some helpful guidelines to aid you in finding the right mindfulness app for you (as suggested by Tlalka, 2016) :App 4

  • Be clear about why you want the app. Is it to help with anxiety? Is it to help with stress? Is it to help with sleep? Think about how the app will help.
  • Be aware that fancy music doesn’t always help. They might induce a state of calm, but they are not helpful if the goal is to observe and experience the present moment.
  • Look at the research. Any apps making claims about benefits to well-being should have an evidence base of studies that use the app as an intervention.
  • Check out the reviews from real people who have used the app. What are they saying?

It also may be helpful to take a look at the recent review of 23 mindfulness based apps. This review used the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) to analyse the apps (Mani, 2016). Unfortunately some popular apps (e.g. Calm) were not including, possibly because they were too new at the time of the study. This study found that the ‘Headspace’ app had the highest average score, followed by Smiling Mind, iMindfulness and Mindfulness Daily.

Find HEADSPACE app on android –>here<—

Find HEADSPACE app on apple –>here<—

Find CALM app on android –>here<—

Find CALM app on apple –>here<—

Find SMILING MIND on android –>here<—

Find SMILING MIND on Apple –>here<—

Find MINDFULNESS DAILY on apple –>here<— (only available on apple products)

Find iMindfulness on Apple –>here<— (only available on apple products).

REFERENCES

Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mindfulness Interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68(18), 1-18.26.

Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., Chapleau, M., Paquin, K., & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.005

3Mani, M., Kavanagh, D. J., Hides, L., Stoyanov, S. R. (2015). Review and evaluation of mindfulness-based iPhone Apps. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 3(3), e82. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4328

Talalka, S., https://www.mindful.org/trouble-mindfulness-apps/ ) 2016

ChatHealth -Text a School Nurse!

ChatHealth is a fantastic new service for children and young people who live in Hampshire and aged 11 to 19 years. If they are worried about their health or have health related questions they can text the school nursing team on 07507 332160. They will receive a reply that includes signposting to additional services.

This service is available Monday to Fridays 08.30 to 16.30, including the school holidays (but not Bank Holidays). If a child or young person messages outside these times they will receive a message directing them to other sources of support. The ChatHealth Nurses will reply to their message during opening times.

Chat Health poster option 4 (your body)

Children and young people might want to text about a range of issues. Some of these might include:

  • Relationships
  • Weight
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drugs
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Self-harm
  • or questions about their body

To text this service, they need to send their message to – 07507332160

The ChatHealth website (click here) offers some additional information about the service including a disclaimer that reads:

We do not usually inform your parents, teachers or anyone else if you contact the school nurse. We might inform someone if we were concerned about your safety, but we would usually speak to you first. Your messages are stored and can be seen by other healthcare staff who follow the same confidentiality rules. We aim to reply to you within one working day and you should get an immediate bounce-back to confirm we received your text. Texts will not be seen outside of normal working hours. If you need help before you hear back from us, contact a member of school staff or your doctor. Our text number does not receive voice calls or MMS picture messages. Prevent the school nurse from sending messages to you by texting STOP to our number. Please respect your schools mobile phone policy. Messages are charged at your usual rate.”

 

Improving Work-Life Balance

Struggle to keep your unfinished work tasks out of mind during your away from work time? It’s time to try out a technique that might help you to defeat that demon, conquer your work tasks and be more likely to enjoy your down-time away from work.

In research published by the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, employees who had uncompleted work goals were asked to describe those goals and then clearly plan where, when and how they would tackle each one. By noting down the specific context for the action, participants appeared more able to put uncompleted tasks out of mind during home hours, and helped participants to let go of work in general.

Check out more about this study in the BPS Digest

National Survey – Pupil wellbeing in UK Schools

Teachers and adults working in schools – have your voice heard and help bring mental health to the forefront of the conversation by completing this short survey available from hub4leaders.co.uk

A report from the Children’s Commissioner in July 2017 found that over 800,000 children in England have a mental health problem, while a separate review showed that over a quarter of children referred to mental health services in 2015 received no help – even those who had attempted suicide.

That is why hub4leaders.co.uk have partnered with The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett University to conduct a national survey into mental health provisions for pupils in the UK.

*Survey takes approx. 1 minute. No personal details are requested

Access the survey HERE

Neuroscience and the classroom – approach with caution or advance with excitement?

Speaking at the Girls’ School Association (GSA) annual conference in Manchester on the 20th November ’17, Professor Bruce Hood (Developmental Psychology, University of Bristol) has stated that scientists are only just beginning to understand the brain and that nothing can be said about how research in neuroscience might impact on education. “There is no one discovery from brain science that changes the way education works”

He also stated that “There has been a real explosion of interest in neuroscience. There has also been a corresponding increase of neuro-nonsense, neuro-myths or neuro-bollocks.”

“We don’t really know anything yet” he said, stating that scientists are only just beginning to understand the brain and how it works. He suggested that neuroscience can’t add anything meaningful to something “as complex as education…Teachers want to improve but they are being fed a diet of misconceptions and neuroscience nonsense.”

What are your thoughts about neuroscience and education? Has any research in neuroscience impacting on your work with children and young people?