Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Garden Room A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Introduction: As students graduate into middle school, they are faced with an array of new social, academic and hormonal challenges. It is no surprise then that students identify school as their primary stressor, and teachers report high levels of anxiety in their classrooms. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have the potential to provide students with the tools to manage anxiety; improve behavioral and academic functioning; and, unlike other socioemotional learning programs, increase attentional and executive control capacities. Yet, little is known about the feasibility and acceptability of adapting such a program in middle schools. Given the disparities in access to mental health resources in rural vs urban communities, school-based MBIs may offer an equitable approach to mental health promotion. Methods: A mixed-methods analysis was conducted to examine the feasibility and acceptability of TimeIn (Trauma-Informed Mental Health in Education: A Mindfulness Based Curriculum). Mindfulness lessons (45 min) were taught in 6th grade students’ P.E. classes once a week, for 10 weeks. 3 P.E. teachers and 23 6th grade teachers attended training workshops prior to delivering curricula and provided written qualitative feedback pre- and mid-intervention. Data were double-coded and analyzed to identify themes related to each lesson of the TimeIn curricula. 160 students completed surveys before and after TimeIn was delivered. Results: Program acceptability was high: students reported feeling happy with the classes (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree; M=3.8±=1.0) and reported that the program helped them better understand themselves (M=3.54±1.1) and others (M=3.4±1.1). Boys reported significant improvements in rumination, positive re-appraisal, perspective-taking, and psychological well-being (ps<.05). Girls, in contrast, reported reductions in their sleep quality and school functioning, and increases in their tendencies to blame themselves and others when distressed (ps<.05). Interestingly, girls who reported that the classes helped them understand themselves and others were also more likely to report increases in maladaptive emotion regulation strategies (ps<.05). Four themes were identified from qualitative data: students’ desire to have their own teachers deliver the curriculum; teachers’ desire for more support in content delivery (e.g., recordings, scripts for sensitive topics); greater secularization of content (e.g., more focus on physiology); and a need for culturally sensitive, trauma-informed delivery strategies (e.g., guidelines for managing student reactions). Conclusions: Findings elucidate the nuances associated with implementing an MBI in a rural middle school and have significant implications for development and scalability.