A team led by a researcher at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University has offered recommendations to help practitioners improve mindfulness-based interventions for low-income adults seeking help for mental health issues.
[Photo: Dr. Claire Adams Spears]
The proposals are the result of focus group sessions with 32 adults, most of them African American, who sought services at a community mental health center. The researchers led the participants through two short, guided mindfulness exercises (mindful breathing and a mindful “body scan” that led them to focus attention on their body, moving gradually from their toes upward).
The researchers described mindfulness to the participants as: “a way of paying attention right here, right now, to whatever is happening, with an attitude of acceptance and non-judgment. Mindfulness is paying attention to our experience and accepting it for what it is without judging it or trying to change it.”
The study found that most participants were open to mindfulness practices and felt it could help them improve their physical and mental wellbeing (e.g., helping them to manage stress, anger, and chronic pain, as well as engage in healthier behaviors like quitting smoking and eating more healthfully). But some were uncomfortable with some aspects of the experience. The researchers recommend that practitioners working with such groups:
The research and resulting suggestions are published in the journal Mindfulness in the article “Perceptions of Mindfulness In a Low-Income, Primarily African American Treatment-Seeking Sample.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Claire Adams Spears, assistant professor of health promotion and behavior at Georgia State’s School of Public Health.