Sunday, October 9, 2011


The UK public charity known as the Mental Health Foundation has launched the country’s first interactive online course in mindfulness with the aim of tackling the problems of stress and anxiety. The course was developed in association with expert practitioners in mindfulness.

There appears to be a fairly direct correlation between the recession and budgetary cuts and levels of stress and anxiety. The Foundation states that incidences of stress and anxiety have been on the rise in the UK in recent years, affecting millions of people and resulting in the loss of over 11 million working days in the UK each year.

Practising the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques taught in the Mental Health Foundation’s online course has been clinically proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and sleeping disorders, whilst also improving mood-regulation and energy levels.

Dr Andrew McCulloch (pictured left), the CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, says:

‘There is a considerable body of clinical evidence demonstrating the potential benefits of mindfulness for those experiencing stress, anxiety, or related disorders like insomnia or mood-disturbance. However, our research has shown that many people do not have access to a mindfulness course in their area, while those who do may be put off by the cost or the difficulties of planning their diaries round a fixed course schedule. By working with expert practitioners to develop this online course, we have created an accessible, flexible and low-cost option for anyone interested in mindfulness, so that more people can take control of managing the impact of stress and anxiety on their daily lives.’

Research carried out by Foundation published earlier this year revealed that 81 per cent of the UK public think that the fast pace of modern life is a major cause of stress, unhappiness and illness in UK society, whilst 86 per cent believe that people would be much happier and healthier if they knew how to slow down and live 'in the moment' (that is, to be fully present in the here-and-now) – one of the key elements of mindfulness.

Here is a short YouTube video in which Dr McCulloch talks about the research the Foundation has undertaken with respect to mindfulness as a treatment for recurrent depression and the Foundation’s campaign to increase availability of mindfulness treatments on the NHS:

There is clearly a need for greater access to mindfulness. The Foundation’s research has revealed that only 20 per cent of general medical practitioners said there were mindfulness courses available in their area, even though 72 per cent of them were of the opinion that it would be advantageous for their patients to learn mindfulness skills.

Given the shortage of money within the NHS, government health bureaucrats could be excused for experiencing rising levels of stress and anxiety. The good news, says Dr McCulloch, is that mindfulness-based therapies are much cheaper than treating depression, stress and anxiety with drugs. He says:

'This would have huge knock-on benefits both socially and economically, making it a sensible treatment to be making available, even at a time when money is short within the NHS.'

The Mental Health Foundation’s online mindfulness course is available at this site.


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