Mindfulness is about focusing attention on the present and in so doing, makes us less vulnerable to unhelpful emotions which are triggered by thoughts of the past or worries for the future.

Research shows that mindfulness:

              • Increases self-awareness, social awareness, and self-confidence
              • Increases emotional self-regulation
              • Reduces the severity of depression, anxiety and ADHD
              • Builds resilience
              • Sharpens focus and concentration.

Mirela Fricot, our resident Senior Psychologist Education at Port Hacking High School, is working closely with our school counsellor, Isabel Pardo-Clapham and the Wellbeing Team to develop and implement this initiative based on positive psychology.

Small groups of Year 9 and 10 girls met twice per week in Term 3 to develop their mindfulness practice. Themes such as gratitude and self-care guided discussions and the girls developed their understanding of the links between neuroplasticity, anxiety and mindfulness. The program is essentially experiential so much time was devoted to the students practising mindfulness and journalling.

Based on the program’s success, it was adjusted to accommodate the needs of Stage 4 and 5 boys. Small groups from each stage met to discuss self-management and how an understanding of the science behind mindfulness can help develop their focus and maintain concentration.

The program content and formal guided practices were developed and led by Mirela, who was the successful recipient of the Premier’s Anika Foundation Youth Depression Awareness Scholarship in 2019.

This scholarship enabled Mirela to travel to the US and visit middle schools in San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Memphis, Marblehead and New York to observe first-hand the developments in these schools’ successful programs to embed Mindfulness practice within their school’s curriculum.

Upon her return, Mirela completed her research paper: Addressing systemic barriers and drivers to implement mindfulness practices in high schools, to combat adolescent stress, anxiety and depression and she presented her findings to the ANIKA Foundation Board of Directors.

Congratulations, Mirela! We are lucky to have your expertise at Port!