Can Mindfulness Training and Practice Reduce Stress and Increase Levels of Well-Being and Self-Compassion for Secondary School Staff?
Audrey Brotherston and Alistair Kelly
Originating Organisation or Projects
EIS Action Research Grants 2018-19
Reducing the level of stress experienced by staff working in schools is increasingly recognised as central not only to protecting and enhancing their own well-being, but also to the development of learning environments that promote positive relational and emotional outcomes for all members of the school community. This small-scale action research project was carried out to evaluate the impact of a mindfulness-based staff training programme in relation to reducing the levels of stress, and improving levels of mental well-being and self-compassion.
The study also aimed, through a mindfulness-informed change and impact model, to locate this within the broader context of strengthening relationships, enhancing well-being and promoting achievement across the whole school community. Although 15 members of staff completed the training programme, the evaluation is based on the 11 full sets of pre- and post-intervention data that were obtained from participants.
Participants were asked to complete self-report questionnaires that measured stress (PSS), mental well-being (WEMWBS) and self-compassion (SCS) at three points; 2 weeks prior to the training (baseline), 3 weeks after the completion of the training (T1) and 17 weeks after completion of the training (T2). Results demonstrated a post-intervention reduction in stress levels for 82% of the group at T1 and T2; a post-intervention improvement in mental well-being for 64% of the group at T1 and for 82% of the group at T2; and, a post-intervention increase in levels of self-compassion for 82% of the group at T1 and for 91% of the group at T2.
Self-compassion was also measured in terms of the SCS sub-scales, with group means increasing from baseline to T2 for the 3 sub-scales in which higher scores were indicative of more self-compassion, and decreasing from baseline to T2 for the 2 of the 3 sub-scales in which lower scores were indicative of more self-compassion.
Findings in this study may guide advocacy and further research on the topic of mindfulness training for secondary teachers. The results support the evidence from larger trials that mindfulness training for school staff can improve staff well-being and provide encouraging evidence that levels of stress, mental well-being and self-compassion can improve as the school year progresses. Implications for policy development are discussed within.