Effectiveness of mindfulness in improving mental health symptoms of children and adolescents: a meta- analysis



Mental health disorders in children and adolescents including anxiety, Asperger syndrome, ADHD etc. is an issue in Hong Kong and the surrounding region of Asia. Increasingly, in order to manage various mental health disorders, Mindfulness- based interventions (MBIs) are used. Unfortunately, there is limited evidence about the efficacy of the various interventions used. In a current issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry a systematic review is performed to examine and evaluate the effects of different MBIs on mental health symptoms and quality of life in both clinical and nonclinical samples of children and adolescents using data from only randomized control trails. From the variables of the type of MBI, study population and control arm yet the study had three comparisons for meta- analysis.


A meta- analysis is a research method that combines the results of several related studies to produce better results. 15 studies were included in the qualitative analysis but only 11 trails with comparable interventions and controls were included for meta- analysis. The results highlighted that types of MBIs such as mindfulness- based stress reduction (MBSR)/ mindfulness- based cognitive therapy arm was more effective than nonactive control in nonclinical populations. MBSR is a program designed to assist people with pain and a range of conditions and life issues that were initially difficult to treat in a hospital setting, while mindfulness- based cognitive therapy arm is a psychosocial intervention for recurrent depression. The Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) was comparable to active treatments (a therapeutic course intended to cure the basic disease problem) in patients in the clinical range. ACT is a unique and creative model for both therapy and coaching, based on the innovative use of mindfulness and values. The aim of ACT is to maximize human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life. It also appears to fulfill the criteria for empirically supported therapy in young people. The results depicted that other MBIs were also effective in improving anxiety and stress but not depression in nonclinical populations compared to nonactive control.


To conclude, MBIs appear to be useful in improving stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms and quality of life in children and adolescents in both clinical and nonclinical samples. MBSR and ACT both satisfy the criteria for empirically supported therapy in this population. Large-scale empirical research is required to further improve our understanding on the impact of mindfulness as a mechanism of change.