Using Mindfulness for Mental Health

A conversation with Patricia Rockman, of The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, about when mindfulness should be used for mental health and when it shouldn't.

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“Evidence-based” is a term Dr. Patricia Rockman hears often. As the co-founder of the not-for-profit Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, Rockman and her colleagues are committed to bringing the most effective mindfulness-based interventions to the most disadvantaged and marginalized in our society—the poor, homeless, unemployed, and disabled—as well as the “front-line workers” who interact most directly with them.

According to the center, mental-health problems, including depression and anxiety, disproportionately impact these groups, which also face the greatest economic and social barriers to getting proper treatment.

The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse. There’s also some early evidence that it can be advantageous for people struggling with addictions, and appears to be particularly promising for smoking cessation. And when suffering causes someone to “have a fixed and negative view of themselves … or their circumstances,” Rockman says, mindfulness can help give them access…