Does Mindfulness Training Work With Youth?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”Buddha

Everyone experiences different types of stress in their lives. Stress can have an effect both physically and psychologically on a person. Physically stress can raise blood pressure and increase ones heart rate. Psychological stress comes from intrusive thoughts which relate to internalizing and externalizing problems. These thoughts have been linked to depression and anxiety in child and youth (Mendelson, Greenberg, Dariotis, Gould, Rhodes, & Leaf, 2010).   These may then lead to behavioral problems, particularly with youth who are already considered at-risk.   At risk youth are already experiencing environmental stressors from areas such as poverty.

Adult studies have shown that meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, improve emotional health and improve self-awareness.  Research has been conducted on the neurological effects of meditation based stress reduction.  The neuroscience research has shown this to changes in emotional and attention spans. Mindfulness practice “continually brings the mind back to the present moment awareness, increasing clarity, attention, calmness and, emotional well-being” (Kimbrough, K. , Magyari, T., Langenbert, P., Chesney, Berman, B.(2010,p. 986)

It is far less common for these studies to have been conducted with youth, however one controlled study found that an 8 week mindfulness-based stress reduction course reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, improved self-esteem, and sleep among adolescents         (Mendelson, Greenberg, Dariotis, Gould, Rhodes, & Leaf, 2010).

Along with mindfulness training, yoga may be beneficial for youth as it combines both the mindfulness and physical activity. Physical activity is associated with “improved health and mental health outcomes among youth, including rates of substance use and depressive and anxiety symptoms” (Mendelson, Greenberg, Dariotis, Gould, Rhodes, & Leaf, 2010).

With the growing interest in mindfulness based therapies with youth an assessment to measure the effectiveness these therapies with youth has been developed and has been tested. The Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM) has recently been developed and initial testing of its validation have been conducted.  The results of this initial test showed that mindfulness therapy had a positive relationship to the quality of live and academic studies.  The results also showed a negative correlation between mindfulness training and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems (Greco, L.A., Wylie, C.P., Baer, R.A, &  Smith, G.T. ,2011).

More studies need to look at the effects on youth and adolescents.  As this type of complementary and alternative medicine becomes more popular people will look to it and other alternative methods to assist in behavioral problems and stress.


Mind Body awareness Project

Current Clinical Studies

Blogs relating to mindfulness


Greco, L.A., Wylie, C.P., Baer, R.A, &  Smith, G.T. (2011). Assessing mindfulness in children and adolescents: Development and validation of the child and adolescent mindfulness measure (CAMM). Psychological Assessment, 23 (3), 606-614. doi: 10.1037/a0022819

Kimbrough, K. , Magyari, T., Langenbert, P., Chesney, Berman, B.(2010).Mindfulness Intervention for Child Abuse Survivors. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 66(1), 17-33. doi: 10.1002/jclp

Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M.T., Dariotis, J.K., Gould, L.F., Rhoades, B.L., & Leaf, P.J. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 985-994. doi: 10.1007/s10802-010-9418-x

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