2016 ANNUAL REPORT

Another Year for the Books.

 
 

Here is a description of the accomplishments of the last year. Etiam et turpis mattis, mauris efficitur, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Nec mauris viverra ante placerat sodales. 

 

Data compiled by Nunc Sollicitudin.

 

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95.6%

Statistics

10,099

STATISTICS

 

1,500

STATISTICS

567

STATISTICS

 
 

Monash University - Executive Summary

 

This Study

This study investigated the retreat format in an Australian setting. It used both quantitative and qualitative research methods to evaluate the impact of the retreat on emotional well-being, as well as provide a comprehensive picture of adolescents’ experience of the retreat, and any benefits or harms experienced from attendance at a retreat.

The quantitative component involved evaluating the impact of the retreat on measures of mindfulness, self-compassion, mental well-being, stress and rumination using self-report questionnaires administered prior to retreat, immediately following the retreat, and at 3-months follow-up. The qualitative enquiry involved participant observation at two retreats and one-on-one interviews with seven adolescents approximately eight weeks after each retreat.

This mixed methods approach examined the outcomes of the retreat program, the mechanisms through which it operates, while also exploring how adolescents interpret and apply mindfulness to their own lives. This study also worked to explore how the retreat format might address challenges that other mindfulness programs face (e.g. time constraints in schools), and challenges that health professionals face in supporting the mental health of young people.

Quantitative findings

Of the 27 eligible retreat attendees, 23 participants were recruited, 18 of which completed all three assessment waves. The average age was 17.7 years, and the sample was 83% female. 

Repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyse the data, and found statistically significant differences in the mean levels across the three assessment waves for all measured outcomes (see Figure 1, p.2). Participants showed significant positive improvements from baseline to post-retreat on all measures (paired t-test p < 0.05), except for rumination (which showed a trend at p = 0.07), and significant improvements on every measure from baseline to three-month follow-up (ps < 0.05). 

Greater improvements in mindfulness and self-compassion were significantly associated with decreases in perceived stress (rs = -0.65 and -0.53 respectively, ps < 0.05) and approached significance for being associated with decreases in rumination (rs = -0.43 and -0.43, ps < 0.1). These associations were moderate-to-strong in their strength.

 

QUANTITATIVE FINDINGS

Figure 1. LEFT: Mean-level differences in mindfulness (blue, square markers), self-compassion (orange, diamond markers), mental well-being (pink, circle markers). RIGHT: Mean-level differences in rumination (red, diamond markers) and perceived stress (green, square markers). Perceived stress was only measured at pre-retreat and 3-month follow-up. Both y-axes have been rescaled for ease of interpretation (possible range 1–5, except for perceived stress, which has a possible range 0-4). Error bars are +/- one standard error from the mean.

 

Qualitative findings

 

The teens interviewed reported that they had benefited from the retreat. Benefits cited include greater confidence and improved self-expression, self-awareness and self-understanding.

Learning to observe and listen: “Just meditating so much, like being with myself so much that I just noticed more about myself, and my habits.”-P3

Sitting with discomfort: “I’m not trying to get rid of pain, I’m trying to live with it. And I think before the retreat, I was trying to get rid of it … I’ve now given myself permission to – well just to feel, which is important.”-P2

A greater self-understanding: “I became more aware of different habits or behaviours that I have that impact me positively or negatively … I’m a lot more aware of those sorts of things.”-P4

Moving from judgement to acceptance: “I realised that your thoughts are sort of just there and that you can’t change them … just being with it and sort of accepting everything and not judging myself or my thoughts”-P1

Gaining confidence and control: “I can recognise behaviours or habits … that are impacting me negatively and try to stop them … I can recognise it and I know that I don’t have to stop it, but I can stop it, it’s not out of my control.”-P4

Improved self-expression: “[the retreat provided] a really great open floor for people to be realistically more honest with others than we generally happen to be with ourselves, which I thought was a nice thing. It helped us all be connected a little bit closer.”-P2

Improved interpersonal relationships: “Practicing mindfulness and going on the retreat and meditating don’t just benefit myself, they can help and have helped relationships with everyone I suppose.”-P2

 

The teens reported that they experienced the retreat as providing a supportive environment, and that a sense of support and connection continued on after the retreat.

Supportive environment: “Any time you left the meditation, a staff member would always follow you, and it was nice to know they were there.”-P4

A shared group experience: “I think the fact that everyone else was doing it helped, that you were doing it together, so it kind of just pushed everyone on to keep going.”-P6

Maintaining the safe space and sense of connectedness after leaving the retreat: “Mindfulness is viewed as a strictly individual thing, but because we learnt it in a group setting, even though now that I’m doing it by myself, I still feel connected to the people that I learnt it with.”-P7

An ongoing application of mindfulness: “Thinking about how I felt in that space, and how much those things have changed my life and my views on certain things … I really want to keep that up … not to dwell on the fact that I’m not in that really amazing space anymore, but just more to take that and spread it across all other aspects of my life.”-P1

Ongoing practice (individually and as a group): “A few of us [from the retreat] have a Facebook group, and we’ll send a message to each other … and use the mindfulness app to meditate together … even though we’re not in the same room like we were on retreat, we kind of have that sense of community that we had.”-P7

 

Interpretation of results and implications

The results of this study suggest the effectiveness and acceptability of a mindfulness-based retreat program for a self-selected group of adolescents. These findings suggest that participants experienced improvements in various aspects of mental and emotional well-being, which were sustained for up to 3 months’ after the retreat. Learning mindfulness skills and putting them into practice at the retreat may have been central to these improvements. Teachings around self-compassion and kindness may have also accounted for improvements, as indicated by quantitative data and reports from interviews of a shift in self-perception from harsh and critical to one that is more that is more kind and accepting. This was particularly beneficial to participants as they learned to sit with discomfort and confront undesired aspects of themselves. Furthermore, the group aspect of the retreat may have provided important educational and therapeutic elements that benefited attending adolescents, who gave positive descriptions of feeling supported at the retreat and developing close relationships with both other adolescents and staff, as well as gaining an overall greater sense of connectedness. This is particularly important given that studies into other mindfulness programs for adolescents have not reported this finding.

 

The quantitative findings in this study are significantly limited by the small sample size and lack of a control group, reducing the ability to infer a causal relationship between retreat attendance and improvements in measured outcomes. Future research into intensive mindfulness retreats for adolescents would benefit from a larger sample size, the inclusion of different adolescent populations (e.g. non-self-selected adolescents), the inclusion of a control group, and comparing the mindfulness-based retreat program to a retreat program without any mindfulness training, as well as school-based mindfulness programs, to improve the strength of findings and enable more accurate comparisons between different methods of delivery.

This study provides an evaluation of the retreat program that highlights not only its effectiveness in enhancing the emotional well-being of adolescents (the outcome), but also how the retreat facilitated these improvements (the process). The findings summarised above shed light on some important factors to consider for supporting healthy development in adolescence, namely the use of mindfulness teachings, cultivating self-compassionate attitudes, creating a safe space, and the development of authentic relationships amongst adolescents and adults, and that an intensive residential retreat may be an acceptable and effective method for achieving these outcomes.

 
 

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Here is some description text. Nullam tempor dolor sed nulla auctor, nec placerat felis sodales. Etiam et turpis mattis, efficitur mi ut, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac, facilisis dui. Ut blandit lectus neque, sit amet fringilla nisi mollis eget. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl blandit.

Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl blandit. Nullam tempor dolor sed nulla auctor, nec placerat felis sodales. Etiam et turpis mattis, efficitur mi ut, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac.

Nullam tempor dolor sed nulla auctor, nec placerat felis sodales. Etiam et turpis mattis, efficitur mi ut, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. 

Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl. Sed a eros nec leo euismod eleifend sit amet ut nisl blandit. Nullam tempor dolor sed nulla auctor, nec placerat felis sodales. Etiam et turpis mattis, efficitur mi ut, ultrices diam. Donec consectetur, odio eget porta varius, orci mauris viverra ante, eget egestas turpis sapien vel orci. Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac.

Donec eu ornare augue, ut efficitur velit. Vestibulum et magna mattis, sollicitudin ligula ac, facilisis dui. Ut blandit lectus neque, sit amet fringilla nisi mollis.

 
 
 

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