Mindfulness has huge health potential – but McMindfulness is no panacea

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Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Guardian: Mindfulness is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon, supported by increasingly rigorous scientific research, and driven in part by a longing for new practices that might help us to better apprehend and solve the challenges that threaten our health.

This week a landmark British report will lay out recommendations for the provision of mindfulness across many public policy areas. Mindful Nation UK, based on evidence presented to an all-party group of the UK parliament, carries enormous promise for health policy in Britain and the wider world.

The World Health Organisation has warned that mental ill-health will be the biggest burden of disease in developed countries by 2030. We urgently need new approaches to tackling this epidemic, and crucially more research to determine the efficacy of mindfulness as a prevention strategy. Already, mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse of recurrent depression by one third. A recent meta-analysis of 209 studies concluded that mindfulness-based interventions showed “large and clinically significant effects” in treating anxiety and depression – effects, crucially, that were maintained through follow-up. These are promising findings for a condition for which there are still only limited treatments. The need to both deepen our understanding of how mindfulness might effect these positive outcomes, as well as to learn how it might help other conditions is expressed by a call for more investment in…

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