There is no question we have a mental health crisis in this country. The number of children, friends, spouses and parents we lose to addiction and suicide is growing at an unbelievable rate. Then, add in the number of violent attacks in schools, churches, public venues and more, you should see an overwhelming amount of evidence that we are missing the proverbial boat on solutions.
The current approach looks frighteningly like the past approaches. Let’s increase security, put metal detectors…well…everywhere. Gun control is debated but goes nowhere and locking people up in institutions seems to be another popular approach.
In other words, we keep trying to solve the same problem in the same way and then sit back surprised that we get the same results. Einstein call this “the definition of insanity” and I couldn’t agree more.
The most troubling thing is we seem to have a solution no one wants to try. There is a massive amount – and it continues to grow — of research that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of daily mindfulness as a countermeasure to mental health issues. One of the most recent studies demonstrates how mindfulness training actually changes the structure of one’s brain, actually increasing the size of the pre-frontal cortex where critical thought allows one to manage emotions in a healthy and productive manner.
Other evidence points to the value we see when children as young as three years old are given the same mental-health tools. Daily mindfulness becomes a preventive measure, promoting healthy brain and emotional development. So the question is no longer if we should be training kids in daily mindfulness, but how quickly can we get them started?
Mindfulness will eliminate many of these tragedies because kids will develop healthy habits of mind, early and consistently, as they grow up. It is prevention, which cost significantly less than treatment. Most importantly, mindfulness is literally as simple as brushing your teeth.
By the way: Imagine the cost in dental care this country would have if we didn’t promote teeth brushing and make it part of our daily lives. The analogy holds as we can already see what we are spending in counseling, rehab centers and the worst of it all, funerals.
It is high time for parents, teachers, administrators and legislators to wake up. Fixing this problem will not happen by applying the same solutions we’ve used for the past 30 years. The problem is just getting worse. So let’s get together and address the root cause of all of this. Let’s stand together for our kids and start them on a path to preventive mental health that promotes and supports their well-being. Let’s stand together to bring mindfulness forward to help build a more peaceful, well-adjusted world.