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Meditation could prevent workforce absenteeism: UK cross-party inquiry

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An eight-month UK inquiry by a cross-party group of MPs and peers on mindfulness, found frontline public servants could be less likely to fall ill with stress or quit altogether if they use mindfulness to help control anxiety and

depression.

Members of the all party group stressed that teachers, prison officers and nurses would benefit from mindfulness training. This links to one of the annual trends predicted by Spafinder Wellness earlier this month – that there will be a ‘blue collar wellness wave’, where employees in service sectors pursue their wellness goals more aggressively than ever before.

According to the department of health, 100 health workers in Surrey were given mindfulness training in 2014 and showed a fall in sickness absence. Several prisons are running pilots to see how the meditation practice can help convicted criminals avoid reoffending. A total of 300 teachers in a network of academy schools in the north west of England have also been trained.

“It could be rolled out to prison staff, GPs and in key professions where there is big burn out,” said Chris Ruane, MP and co-chair of the cross-party group. “If we prove conclusively that mindfulness can stabilise those individuals, it would be a great benefit to society.”

Mindfulness in Britain appears to be on an upward curve. A recent article in the The Guardian reported that more than 1,000 mindfulness courses are currently being offered in the UK. Elsewhere, Headspace, a meditation software for smartphones, has registered more than half a million users, while mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is growing in popularity among politicians.

The cross-party group called on the government to “substantially widen” the “woefully inadequate” availability of MBCT on the NHS for adults with a history of depression, on the basis that it “significantly reduces risk of relapse.” An Oxford University study has found MBCT can reduce relapses into depression by 44 per cent.

Although this cross-party group is not in any position to implement dramatic change outside of its recommendations, the establishment of this inquiry illustrates progress being made by the UK government to improve the nation’s wellness and thus its workforce. Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder, recently wrote an article encouraging governments all over the world to establish ministries of wellness to align all government departments with wellness goals.

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An eight-month UK inquiry by a cross-party group of MPs and peers on mindfulness, found frontline public servants could be less likely to fall ill with stress or quit altogether if they use mindfulness to help control anxiety and depression.
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Members of the all party group stressed that teachers, prison officers and nurses would benefit from mindfulness training / Shutterstock / michaeljung
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