Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness Learned Over the Internet
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“With the rise of mental illness and the increasingly pressing need for effective treatments, there’s never been a more important moment for mindfulness — the ability to cultivate a focused, non-judgmental awareness on the present moment. Research has shown mindfulness and meditation-based programs to hold promise for treating a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Carolyn Gregoire
Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, online mindfulness training programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. There is evidence that mindfulness programs delivered online can be quite effective. But there is a need to further investigate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to face-to-face trainings for the treatment of clinical mental health problems.
In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231788/ ), Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness on mindfulness training delivered online for the improvement of clinical mental health. They found 12 published studies employing patients with diagnosed mental health issues who received online mindfulness training.
They found that the published research literature reported that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in depression and anxiety, especially in patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders. In addition, they found that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in quality of life and mindfulness skills in these clinical patients. The effects were strongest when the control condition was a wait-list and less so, and often non-significant when compared to other active treatments. This suggests the online mindfulness training is not more but equivalently effective as other treatments.
These are important results as anxiety disorders and depression are very common diagnoses. It has been well established that mindfulness training improves depression and anxiety. These results extend these prior findings by demonstrating that treatment can be delivered online and to patients with clinical mental health diagnoses. The fact that the treatment was found to be especially effective for patients with anxiety disorders is important as patients with anxiety disorders may be reticent to venture into a clinical environment to receive treatment. Being able to receive treatment without venturing out into the outside world with all of its anxiety evoking situations may be very helpful for these patients.
The fact that mindfulness training can be effective when delivered online is very important. Online delivery allows for the application of mindfulness training to a much wider audience at low cost and thus increases the availability of treatment for the relief of suffering,
So, improve mental health with mindfulness learned over the internet.
“Mindfulness helps to be awakening to the patterns of the mind rather than emptying the mind. It helps you to be in touch with your way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It is a concept that could be life changing and worth experiencing.” – Christos Papalekas
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Sevilla-Llewellyn-Jones, J., Santesteban-Echarri, O., Pryor, I., McGorry, P., & Alvarez-Jimenez, M. (2018). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JMIR mental health, 5(3), e10278. doi:10.2196/10278
Web-based mindfulness interventions are increasingly delivered through the internet to treat mental health conditions.
The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in clinical mental health populations. Secondary aims were to explore the impact of study variables on the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions.
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of web-based mindfulness interventions on clinical populations.
The search strategy yielded 12 eligible studies. Web-based mindfulness interventions were effective in reducing depression in the total clinical sample (n=656 g=−0.609, P=.004) and in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=313, g=−0.651, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder subgroup (n=251, P=.18). Similarly, web-based mindfulness interventions significantly reduced anxiety in the total clinical sample (n=756, g=−0.433, P=.004) and the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=413, g=−0.719, P<.001), but not in the depression disorder group (n=251, g=−0.213, P=.28). Finally, web-based mindfulness interventions improved quality of life and functioning in the total sample (n=591, g=0.362, P=.02) in the anxiety disorder subgroup (n=370, g=0.550, P=.02) and mindfulness skills in the total clinical sample (n=251, g=0.724, P<.001).
Results support the effectiveness of web-based mindfulness interventions in reducing depression and anxiety and in enhancing quality of life and mindfulness skills, particularly in those with clinical anxiety. Results should be interpreted with caution given the high heterogeneity of web-based mindfulness interventions and the low number of studies included.