Drop in silence 180In this guest blog Richard Hills of Drop-in Silence looks at how mindfulness has become the new buzzword and how its benefits can be maximised:

Thousands of people are discovering the benefits that are linked to our mental and physical health. The increase in the surge of interest in mindfulness activities has developed from the search for new and alternative practices that can help us better understand how to solve and avoid health issues.

The recognition of the benefits associated was bought to the forefront of the UK Government this week, with the release of the Mindful Nation UK report. This report is the first of its kind, and it lays out the recommendations for the provision of mindfulness across public policy areas. The recommendations, which are evidence based, focuses on mental health and are a huge step forward for health policy. The report also carries enough weight to be implemented in other areas of the world beyond the UK.

The World Health Organisation issued a warning that, by 2030, mental health will be the biggest burden illness in the UK. The report offers new approaches and lays out new understandings of such intricate diseases under the umbrella of mental health. Mindfulness training, which is already proving successful at reducing depression and relapse in mental health, will now be implemented in business, industry, the criminal justice system and education.

The report is the culmination of over a year’s worth of research and discussion. The Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group believe that, and rightly so, mindfulness has the potential to improve the health and will allow many people to succeed.

The report discusses the role of mindfulness training in increasing productivity and creativity, which in turn will prove to boost the economy. But what are the time scales and how far away are we from recommendation to full implementation?
It has taken this long for the Government to recognise the issues surrounding mental health as clearly as it does in this report, and 2030 is only another 15 years away.

Forgive me if I am slightly cynical. I am fully on board with the recommendations laid out in the report. Allowing those with mental health problems access to training and wellbeing processes that can improve their quality of life in all areas has several advantages.

However, successful mindfulness training could take years and we are looking at a wide spread audience that requires this help, in four very different sectors. There will need to be full support systems in place and innovation is required. And can supply meet demand? Especially in the crucial early implementation stages. The Government will be wise to work with existing initiatives and local events that are designed for mindfulness and that are already working with good response.

There are several challenges that lie ahead. A true understanding of mindfulness and the benefits it can provide will need to be both learned and taught, and it will need to be a case of Government officials practicing what they preach. And I am sure several individuals and organisations will need to be convinced. However, there is no denying the already leading benefits that the Mindful Nation UK report is already producing. And having a leading document such as this in play that seeks to help improve mental health directly, - instead of working around the problem - is already quite a feat.

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