The Mindful Futures Network (MFN) recognises that advances in the science of the mind have implications for the skills and motivations required to improve decision-making, perspective-taking, deep-thinking, creativity, and higher levels of engagement in Australia’s public and private organisations.
Thinking outside the box, researchers are finding new applications for mindfulness, empathy and compassion at a systems level right across the country. So MFN is mapping and showcasing their projects and activities to inform, inspire and connect those working in the space. And they are inspiring indeed!
They range from compassion care initiatives in hospitals, to evaluating empathy conversations as a policy tool in the welfare sector, assessing the impact of mindfulness courses in schools and reflecting on empathy and mindful practices among university lecturers.
The feedback has been very positive from those filling out the MFN project/activity survey, including Dr Maura Kenny, Coordinator of the Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Programs at the Centre for the Treatment of Anxiety & Depression, South Australian Health.
“MFN is already helping by allowing us to map what is happening in SA, enabling collaboration and networking with similar work in other states. It is important that this translates into policy and curriculum development in Australian medical schools, post graduate Colleges and allied health training settings,” said Dr Kenny.
“Evidence-based mindfulness courses adapted for different workplaces, professions and communities is the future challenge for Australia. This approach is moving rapidly from its original application to stress management and other clinical conditions through to its potential as a community health and well being initiative.”
Here are some highlights of the projects and activities that have been shared with MFN so far:
Project 1: A smarter workplace through Mindful Leadership in the Business Sector
WorkSmart Australia is testing a world-first ‘Mindful Leadership 360 Assessment’, to measure the links between leadership, mindfulness, engagement and mental health outcomes.
Almost 450 leaders from some of the biggest corporations in the world are being assessed, with about 4000 observers. Participants have been provided with intensive training in both mindfulness and mindful leadership based on engagement scores from the global Great Place to Work benchmarks. The mental health score improvements of both leaders and their direct reports will be measured in the results, which are due later in 2017.
The project is being led by Michael Bunting, author of The Mindful Leader.
Project 2: Nurses improve care with Compassion at the heart of well-being
This project is focused on improving the wellbeing and compassion of nurses, and therefore the provision of quality care, in circumstances that often create high stress, burnout and compassion-fatigue.
The randomised trial compares a control group with two compassion-based interventions – a meditation group and a positive psychology group. Heart rate variability, objective feedback from patients and a range of other quantitative and qualitative factors are being used to measure the effects of the interventions on both the individuals and those around them.
This is joint study by researchers at the Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Positive Psychology & Education and at the University of Sydney.
Project 3: Students model Mindful Design Leadership
This six-week course run through RMIT has been developed to reflect the current shift in design thinking, helping students conceive models of leadership built on self-awareness, resilience and compassion.
The course will focus on interpersonal and individual mindfulness practices, to increase eacg student’s understanding of their own capacity and motivation to lead. The measures of success will include increased mindful leadership, mindful creative practice competencies and adaptive application of these competencies in a workplace situation. The impact evaluation will involve interviewing participants after the course about their experience of the process.
This project recognises that many health care staff are both tired and time poor, so they need space to renew their energy and productivity and improve enjoyment of their professional life.
Participants undertake a six-week Introduction to Mindfulness course that includes practices and exercises which can be woven into even the busiest of lives, giving them a taste of managing their work with this approach. Data has already been collected and analysed on 80 health care professionals and the findings demonstrate statistically significant reductions in stress and increases in levels of self-compassion.
The project is run by Dr Maura Kenny — who established Mindful Self Care Programs in Adelaide in 2008 — in conjunction with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Clinical Education Centre.
Many more projects to come
Each week, more project details are being added to the Mindful Futures Network webpages and shared through MFN. Some of the initiatives that will be featured soon include:
- Mindfulness as a transdiagnostic school prevention program for young adolescents.
- Moving beyond trauma, assisting people to reclaim their lives and actively contribute to their own healing.
- The science of cooperation, aiming to improve trust and collaboration in groups.
- Teaching for brain science and wellbeing, aiming to improve academic and social performance among school students.
Over the coming months, MFN will continue to showcase innovative projects, providing context and analysis. To make sure you receive the latest updates, you can join the Mindful Futures Network by clicking on the yellow button below.
Also, if you, or anyone you know, is undertaking any similar projects, please complete this survey template so MFN can continue to map and share this information and grow the network.