UOTA MHSIS Update by Tina McNulty
I wanted to make you aware of an evidence-based program called A Mindfulness-based Curriculum for Preschoolers that aims to increase self-regulation skills. This curriculum is available free at www.centerhealthyminds.org (You just have to sign up with your email and indicate how many people you intend to use the program with.)
The 8 modules in the curriculum are:
- Mindful bodies and planting seeds of peace and kindness
- I feel emotions on the inside
- How I feel inside shows on the outside
- Taking care of strong emotions on the inside and outside
- Calming and working out problems
- All people depend on each other and the earth
- Gratitude and caring for our world
To read about the most recent evidence for A Mindfulness-based Curriculum for Preschoolers, a free article is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485612/
Even if you do not work with preschoolers, Ginny Stoffel, PhD, OT, past president of the AOTA and recognized specialist in substance use disorders and mental health conditions, thought that occupational Therapists who work with clients who are older than preschoolers might gain some positive intervention ideas from this resource. My interest in mental health especially focuses on youth and adults (not preschoolers), and I agree that it is valuable to look at this curriculum because it can help us to see an example of how to structure a manualized intervention program and again, can stimulate our professional reasoning about integrating mindfulness in our settings.
Another mindfulness resource available for free are streaming audio of different types of guided relaxation from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA. http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations – You can stream or download these files which meditation focused on breathing, body scan, and loving kindness. They range from 3 to 19 minutes, so they can be a great gateway to meditation for clients and/or therapists who have little experience with mindfulness. Another benefit of this website is that continuing education program in mindfulness is available online or in person.
Lastly, and importantly, the first week in October is recognized as National Mental Health Awareness week by several organizations including the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America. The local chapter of NAMI website has many resources and programs that you can potentially refer your clients to regardless of whether your client’s primary barrier to function is mental health or another aspect of health. One unique part of occupational therapy’s scope of practice across settings is that our assessments and interventions address psychosocial functioning, so it is valuable to stay alert to psychosocial resources available to clients.
On a final note, just a friendly suggestion to consider this week how you, yourself, are addressing your own mental health and wellness needs in your daily life. To keep our own capacities up as health practitioners, we need to be “mindful” of how our own environments, occupations, relationships, and thinking support our own wellness. Wouldn’t it be great if we, ourselves can take advantage (or continuing to take advantage) of our profession’s unique framework to consider and improve our health!