To improve students’ mental health, Yale study finds, teach them to breathe

When college students learn specific techniques for managing stress and anxiety, their well-being improves across a range of measures and leads to better mental health, a new Yale study finds.

The research team evaluated three classroom-based wellness training programs that incorporate breathing and emotional intelligence strategies, finding that two led to improvements in aspects of well-being. The most effective program led to improvements in six areas, including depression and social connectedness.

The researchers, who reported findings in the July 15 edition of Frontiers in Psychiatry, said such resiliency training programs could be a valuable tool for addressing the mental health crisis on university campuses.

In addition to academic skills, we need to teach students how to live a balanced life,” said Emma Seppälä, lead author and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Program at Yale School of Management. “Student mental health has been on the decline over the last 10 years, and with the pandemic and racial tensions, things have only gotten worse.”

Researchers at the Yale Child Study Center and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI) conducted the study, which tested three skill-building training programs on 135 undergraduate subjects for eight weeks (30 hours total), and measured results against those of a non-intervention control group.

They found that a training program called SKY Campus Happiness, developed by the Art of Living Foundation, which relies on a breathing technique called SKY Breath Meditation, yoga postures, social connection, and service activities, was most beneficial. Following the SKY sessions, students reported improvements in six areas of well-being: depression, stress, mental health, mindfulness, positive affect, and social connectedness.

A second program called Foundations of Emotional Intelligence, developed by the YCEI, resulted in one improvement: greater mindfulness — the ability for students to be present and enjoy the moment.

A third program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which relies heavily on mindfulness techniques, resulted in no reported improvements.

In all, 135 Yale undergraduate students participated in the study.

Across college campuses, there has been a significant rise in student depression, anxiety, and demand for mental health services. From 2009 to 2014, students seeking treatment from campus counseling centers rose by 30%, though enrollment increased by just 6% on average. Fifty-seven percent of counseling center directors indicated that their resources are insufficient to meet students’ needs.

The researchers say resiliency training tools can address the overburdening of campus counseling centers directly. In the sessions. “Students learn tools they can use for the rest of their lives to continue to improve and maintain their mental health,” said co-first author Christina Bradley ’16 B.S., currently a Ph.D. student at University of Michigan.

Researchers administered the training sessions in person, but the courses can also be taken remotely.

Continually adding staff to counseling and psychiatric services to meet demand is not financially sustainable — and universities are realizing this,” Seppälä said. “Evidence-based resiliency programs can help students help themselves.”

Davornne Lindo ’22 B.A., a member of the Yale track team who participated in the SKY Campus Happiness program, said practicing breathing techniques helped her to manage stress from both academics and athletics. “Now that I have these techniques to help me, I would say that my mentality is a lot healthier,” Lindo said. “I can devote time to studying and not melting down. Races have gone better. Times are dropping.”

Another participant in the SKY program, Anna Wilkinson ’22 B.A., said she was not familiar with the positive benefits of breathing exercises before the training, but now uses the technique regularly. “I didn’t realize how much of it was physiology, how you control the things inside you with breathing,” Wilkinson said. “I come out of breathing and meditation as a happier, more balanced person, which is something I did not expect at all.”

The research was funded in part by an anonymous donor to the YCEI and with the support of Yale Well, a group of students, faculty, and staff convened by Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews to increase student wellness at Yale. Additional researchers include Dhruv Nandamudi, Julia Moeller, Leilah Harouni, and Marc A. Brackett, founder and director of the YCEI.

IAHV Statement on Mental Health Awareness Month

MAY 2020 WASHINGTON DC:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) and the Art of Living Foundation are  committed to joining communities and organizations across the country to raise awareness about the millions of Americans affected with mental ailments. It is not only important to raise awareness on mental health but also proactively work towards mental well-being of individuals and communities.

Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. adults, nearly 47.6 million people, experience serious mental illness each year. [1] Added to that, more than 50 percent of Americans will manage a mental health condition at some point in their lives. These statistics were gathered pre-COVID-19. Given the nature of the pandemic the importance of addressing mental health is more significant than ever before.

A poll just released in April by the Kaiser Foundation shows that about half of adults feel the pandemic is impacting their mental health. Almost one in five says it’s been a major impact. With social distancing and increased levels of isolation it becomes paramount to address ways to mitigate the negative impacts of stress and anxiety.

IAHV works around the world with the most vulnerable sections of society to build community resilience by offering breath-based workshops to reduce mental stress, anxiety and trauma. The courses have benefitted refugees, survivors of violence, war veterans and those navigating stresses of everyday life. In fact, the founder of the organization, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is hosting daily online meditation sessions https://www.youtube.com/srisri  across social media channels to help reduce stress of people around the globe. Millions around the world join these sessions every day to help navigate the uncertainties in the world outside by finding peace within.

If this crisis has taught us one thing it is that we are all connected. We are in this together and we will get through this together. By caring and working together, we can bring about a positive wave. We can shift the social stigma that prohibit people from getting appropriate care. We can work towards a nation and world where people prioritize mental health well-being to fulfil their highest potential.

Daily online meditations can be accessed across:
YouTube: youtube.com/srisri
Instagram: @srisriravishankar
Facebook: @SriSriRaviShankar

Inaugural Mental Health and Fitness Summit Aims to Disrupt America’s Mental Health Crisis by Bringing Together Innovative Experts : July 22-25, 2019, Denver, CO

Summit will feature change makers from the healthcare, government and humanitarian fields in an effort to adopt concrete solutions to improve early intervention, treatment and stigmatization of mental health

 

Denver, CO — (May 8, 2019)

 

More than 46 million Americans (1 in 5) suffer from mental illness every given year – causing tremendous suffering to those impacted and their families and costing the US almost 200 billion dollars a year. 

 

The International Association of Human Values (IAHV) and its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will host its Inaugural National Summit on Mental Health and Fitness in Denver, CO on July 22-25, 2019. The event aims to disrupt outdated approaches to Mental Health by bringing in experts and change makers to share their unique vision and expertise with the goal of producing an integrated mental health model that focuses on the whole person.

American Author, Writer, and Activist and the Presidential candidate for 2020, Marianne Williamson will be opening the conference. Expert speakers at the Summit include Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, celebrated humanitarian and peacemaker; Tim Ryan, Congressman and Presidential candidate OH-13; Dr Nata Menabde, Executive Director, World Health Organization Office at the United Nations; Bill Milliken, Founder & Vice Chairman, Communities in Schools; Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder & President of Give an Hour Psychologist; and Emma Seppala, Science Director, Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

The Summit aims to bring together experts with varied expertise from diverse fields to build a holistic approach for faster interventions, lower cost treatments and efficient ways to curb violence and crimes through mental health prevention. Experts will discuss and present integrated strategies that enhance positive emotions, life satisfaction and spirituality while addressing biological, cultural and economic approaches to treating mental health.

“Not being in touch with your inner being is one of the main reasons for mental health instability. When one is not able to effectively manage their emotions and thoughts, then they are also inhibited in their communication. Lack of proper communication causes all sorts of problems – for individuals and societies alike – leading to stress and trauma that impacts mental health. This summit will bring people together to learn meditation, calm their minds, and make one feel happy from within.” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Attendees at this year’s Summit will hail from multiple professions, backgrounds and parts of the world, providing for unique networking opportunities to be a part of a founding movement that changes the way we think about and manage mental illness in our communities.

 

The Summit will conclude on July 24th with the largest meditation event in U.S. history America Meditates, in Denver’s City Park, will bring together community, raising awareness and inspiring the public to stand together for better mental well-being. On July 25th there will be a policy making lunch and round table by application for the changemakers in their organizations. Sam Beard and Bill Milliken will be putting the collective wisdom into new policy initiatives.

Corporate sponsorships are also available for this unique event. For those interested, please contact Sajni at 720-722-2653. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

PR Contact: KristinAnn Janishefski, The Vanguard PR on Behalf of IAHV 310-560-6258

About IAHV:

IAHV offers programs to reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities. We foster the daily practice of human values – a sense of connectedness and respect for all people and the natural environment, an attitude of non-violence, and an ethic of social service. Our programs enhance clarity of mind, shift attitudes and behaviors, and develop leaders and communities that are resilient, responsible, and inspired.

 

About Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Sri Sri is a humanitarian, teacher and peacemaker. He founded global non-profits the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values – two of the largest volunteer-run non-profits in the world – to help relieve stress and trauma, teach human values, and increase happiness. He has created trauma-relief and meditation programs for at-risk youth, war veterans, prisoners and survivors of disaster. He is also engaged in peace-making efforts internationally and in war-torn areas like Colombia and Iraq. 18 universities have awarded him with honorary doctorates for his peace-keeping efforts. In addition, he has also received 38 governmental awards. In the United States, he has received the International Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the award for Inspiring Humanity from the Foundation for California. He has been an invited speaker at institutions like the United Nations, the European Parliament, the World Economic Forum, and the Israeli Presidential Conference, as well as top universities like Stanford University, The Wharton School, and the University of Southern California. In addition, he has spoken at conferences like TED. He has been featured on CNN and The New York Times, has written over 40 books and contributes to The Huffington Post. Scientific research on his programs has shown that they significantly decrease anxiety, stress and depression while making people feel happier and more optimistic.

Handing Over Ceremony of Palar River Rejuvenation

December 03, 2015

“The Whole world is struggling for water and it is said that if a third world war happens it would be because of water.”, said IAHV & Art of Living Founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, bringing the attention of the citizens of Kaiwara (dist Chikkaballapur) to a possible solution for their water problems.

Volunteers begun work for Palar’s rejuvenation, the removal of silt and reviving the small streams which flowed to the river after the rains. Initial work has commenced in Phase-1 on 10km streams, covering 35 villages. Until now, 40 recharge wells, 2 recharge borewells, 2 boulder checks and 1 water pool has been constructed. Narayanavana, a grove of medicinal plants with 30 different varieties has been created.

Along with the farmers, we have started planting trees. 3000 trees were planted within one month. This will continue and 10000 saplings will be planted in the next few months.

A Narayana Vana has been created at Kaiwara, as part of the rejuvenation project. There are 32 species of rare and endangered plants, like, Sita Ashoka (helpful in relieving stress and addressing gynecological problems), “Kadambi” (traps dust) and Atti tree (other organisms and birds nest in this tree). In total, there are around 200 trees and 2,000 herbs and shrubs in this Vana.

Palar Then and Now
40 years ago: The majestic Palar river flowed through the 3 states of Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu, with lush natural vegetation decorating its banks. Flowing even in time of drought, the river fed and replenished numerous wells and streams, ultimately merging into the Bay of Bengal.

Present Day: Today, the soil has corroded, basin is filled with silt and the wells and streams are a thing of the past.

 

September 28, 2015

Our Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji handed over recharge structures of Palar River Rejuvenation to Gram Panchayat and inaugurated Narayana vana at Kaiwara, Karnataka on 19th Sep 2015.