The Mindful Parenting & Community Project (MPCP)

Project led by: Donna Parsons and Claire-Louise Symonds
Funded by the MindMore Foundation via the OMC Accessibility Fund (2019)

Population: We worked primarily with families from black and minority ethnic (BME) in a deprived area of Bristol, collaborating with a local school that has a higher than the national average pupil premium level and English as an additional language. Many of these families have large numbers of children and live in poverty. They live in social housing with high levels of overcrowding. Referrals were received from parents, social care services, health workers and school pastoral care workers. There was a core of 11 very committed attenders out of a group of 16 initially.

Intervention: In school we ran an adapted mindfulness course with targeted and non-targeted parents. The content comprised a toolbox of experiential practices e.g. sitting, movement, emergency pocket practices and communication tools. These tools grow a strong capacity to work with stress from within the body, thus reducing emotional suffering and stress reactivity, improving emotional resilience & self-belief, developing healthier relationships for parents and their children.

Results: The results of the pre and post course measures and the conversations that were had with parents at the end of the course showed that:
• The course was very helpful
• There were self-reported improvements in levels of stress particularly
• The course did improve the parent/child relationship

The Mindful Parenting & Community Project (MPCP)

Project led by: Donna Parsons and Claire-Louise Symonds
Funded by the MindMore Foundation via the OMC Accessibility Fund (2020)

Background: The Mindful Parenting & Community Project (MPCP) was established by a group of Bristol based Mindfulness Practioners to support participants to manage their mental health and wellbeing through connecting with mindfulness as an individual, parent, child, teacher or community. We aim to focus our support on the more deprived areas of the South West to bring improved health and wellbeing to those that are more isolated or vulnerable within their community.

The Mindful Parenting & Community Project (MBCP) aims to:
• Raise awareness of the benefits of mindfulness with families, particularly focusing on vulnerable and disadvantaged families without the means to access ‘mainstream’ mindfulness courses.
• Support parents in managing stress, and difficulties in their lives enabling them to become more resilient and parent more effectively.
• Deliver mindfulness training courses, workshops and information for families and professionals working with families in the South West.

Details of the project – training, activity or initiative:
• An integrated MBCT-course for vulnerable parents and their children in two parts
• Follow up workshops for vulnerable parents to maintain their practice.
• A subsidised retreat weekend for vulnerable parents who have completed a course.

Whilst there are many studies of the benefits of mindfulness for parents, it is important to continue investigating the impact of mindfulness training delivered to specific parent populations. This application addresses vulnerable parents who do not usually come across mindfulness courses or practices and so we are wanting to develop a course that supports parents to access these practices gently through dividing the course into two parts. This will enable parents to embed the practices from weeks 1-4 fully and start to use these practices with their children before progressing onto the second half of the course where more in depth inter-relational practices are introduced from the work of dr. Susan Bögels.

We know that parenting skills are found to collapse when parents are stressed. The evidence also suggests that mindfulness courses that focus on parental stress and wellbeing rather than their child’s behaviour supports self-care, levels of self-compassion and emotional regulation. This, in turn, has implications for children in that parents who are mindful and self-compassionate tend to have children with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Supports for parents, outside the very high-risk groups, is not well resourced. Preventative programs have been scaled back and there is a dearth of services supporting parents to manage their own mental health and connect with the joys of parenting. Working in partnership with our sister organization in Devon, we want to build upon MPCP’s recent work with disadvantaged and marginalized groups of parents in order to demonstrate the value of cost-effective and beneficial MBCT-programs that include elements of follow-up support for parents and their children. We would also like the opportunity to investigate further the acceptability of mindfulness programs to parents living in ethically diverse areas of the city through an integrated course for BME Parents and their children.

We will be working primarily with families from black and minority ethnic in a deprived area of Bristol by potentially collaborating with the Hannah Moore school or a school in a similar position/area of deprivation, an urban primary school that has a higher than the national average pupil premium level and English as an additional language. Many of these families have large numbers of children and live in poverty. They live in social housing with high levels of overcrowding. Refugee families make up a significant proportion of Hannah Moore’s intake each year, many of whom have experienced trauma arising from conditions in their country of origin, from events during their flight, or both. The school’s Self Evaluation Form suggests that boys are more affected than girls by this trauma and the psychological and behavioral challenges posed by straddling two cultures.

CARE4Parents: A parenting training for parents with a child with 22q11DS (2019-2022)

Project led by: Sasja N. Duijff
Trainers: Sasja N. Duijff, Anselma Prins

Parenting is often experienced as one of the most important and significant events in a person’s life. Parenting brings with it beautiful moments, but also stressful moments. If a child is born with additional challenges on a medical and/or behavioral level, the demands of parental caregiving are increased. Parents of medically complex children, such as for example those with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), are at a higher risk of stress and poor mental health. These parents face ongoing challenges – on a practical, logistical, physical and emotional level – associated with their child’s illness. This can put pressure on the ability to properly relate to and respond to their child which in turn can increase the risk of poor social-emotional and cognitive development of the child. Unfortunately, this group of parents is generally poorly supported.

An existing, evidence-based parenting intervention, Mindful Parenting, has been adapted by CARE4Minds with relevant themes for parents with a medically complex child. Previous research shows that Mindful Parenting benefits the whole family by, among other things, helping parents to cope better with stress, improving the mental health of both parents and children. The project evaluates the effectiveness and feasibility of an eight-week mindful parenting program for parents of a child with 22q11DS adapted for this target group. The aim is to reduce parenting stress, improve parenting satisfaction, and improve experienced behavior or temperament of the affected child.


Mindful with your baby/toddler within a non-clinical, preventive target population, (2019-)

Researcher: Eva Potharst, Esther de Bruin, Susan Bögels, Moniek Zeegers,
Trainers: Daphne Wind, Loes Glandorff en Vanessa Kossin

Parental stress in the early years of parenthood has negative consequences for the parent-child relationship and for the cognitive, social, and emotional development of the child. ‘Mindful with your baby’ and ‘Mindful with your toddler’ are mindfulness-based programs for parents with a baby or toddler who experience stress in parenting.

Research into the effectiveness of mindful with your baby or toddler training has so far been conducted within clinical populations, including mothers with a major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder. This showed that both the mothers themselves and the babies/toddlers benefit from the training. The mothers’ psychopathology decreased and the sense of well-being increased. They felt more competent as mothers, became more mindful and developed more self-compassion. The babies showed more positive emotions to their mothers and the psychopathology of the toddlers decreased. It was also found that the training was effective in improving several aspects of the observed parent-child interaction. Within the non-clinical populations, i.e. mothers without mental disorders, there also seems to be a need for, and an interest in, the training.

Many young mothers experience parenthood as tough and stressful, and they have felt lonely in their experience of motherhood. The supported study aims to investigate the suitability, personal experiences and effectiveness of ‘mindful with your baby/toddler’ within a non-clinical, preventive target population.

YOU MIND Plus: Boosting psychological well-being of children with chronic diseases and their parents
using a mobile application offering mindfulness-based exercises (2021–2023)

Project is conducted by the Leuven Mindfulness Centre, in cooperation with UZ Gent
Researchers: Eva Ceulemans, Kathleen van der Gucht, Yasemin Erbas, Filip Raes and Peter Kuppens
Mindfulness trainer: Inge de Leeuw

Background: Children with a chronic condition and their parents often experience psychological complaints such as stress, sleep problems, depression and anxiety. Parents report to feel a sense of helplessness: they want to help their child, but often do not know how. Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been found to improve emotional stress, improve coping and overall quality of life for parents of children with a chronic condition. This is not only important for the parents but is also in the best interest of the child. However, the existing interventions are often difficult to access. By giving parents the opportunity to practice mindfulness exercises with their child via a mobile application and furthermore practice by themselves, we might meet this need.

Methods/Design: In this project we will develop an easily accessible and innovative mobile application based on mindfulness. The program offered builds on a mobile application that is systematically developed and evidence-based and which is currently used as blended care in adult and adolescent ex cancer patients. We opt for blended care whereby the mobile application allows contact with the healthcare provider, but children and parents have full access to practice independently as well.

Research goal: The first aim of this project is to adapt the existing mobile application to the specific needs of this target population. Therefore, we will create two modules: one module tailored for children where they can practice alone or together with their parents, and a second module with exercises for the parents. The mindfulness exercises adhere to the standardized protocols of MBSR and MBCT manuals and rely on previous research examining the effect of mindfulness exercises on the psychological well-being of both children and adults. The content of this application is theory driven (building compassion, mindfulness and resilience in parental caregiving). The app offers guided meditations and background information using different formats including: movies (talking heads), audio files and text supported by graphic figures adapted to children, thereby increasing accessibility and attractiveness of the app. In a second phase, the effectiveness and user-friendliness of the program is examined. Implementation in hospitals and patient organizations by means of workshops follows in the third phase.