Jan 8, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Building resilience benefits more than your well-being. It benefits your grades, too.

A new study from the University of Cambridge shows that mindfulness improves mental health in university students—and helps them perform better on exams.

The study’s conclusion? Eight-week mindfulness courses at UK universities may help prevent mental illness and improve students’ well-being.

Researchers studied over 600 Cambridge students, due to growing concern about mental health in the higher education sector.

In an article in The Guardian, Géraldine Dufour, one of the report’s authors and head of the University of Cambridge’s counseling service, said, “Given the increasing demands on student mental health services, we wanted to see whether mindfulness could help students develop preventative coping strategies.”

The students were randomly assigned to two groups, both of which had access to the university’s usual support services and NHS services. One group was offered an additional mindfulness course—eight weekly, group-based sessions and home-based assignments, like meditation, mindful walking, and mindful eating.

Students who participated in the mindfulness activities were one third less likely to scores above the cutoff for mental health support—even during the most stressful part of the year.  The students who did not have access to the mindfulness training were generally more stressed as the year progressed.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Julieta Galante said, “This is, to the best of our knowledge, the most robust study to date to assess mindfulness training for students, and backs up previous studies that suggest it can improve mental health and wellbeing during stressful periods.”

She added, “Students who had been practicing mindfulness had distress scores lower than their baseline levels even during exam time, which suggests that mindfulness helps build resilience against stress.”

Learn more about mental healthcare.

 

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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