Philosophy for children and mindfulness during COVID-19: Results from a randomized cluster trial and impact on mental health in elementary school students
Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Catherine; Leger-Goodes, Terra; A. Mageau, Geneviève; Joussemet, Mireille; Herba, Catherine; Chadi, Nicholas; Lefrançois, David; Camden, Chantal; Bussieres, Eve-Line; Taylor, Geneviève; Éthier, Marc-André; Gagnon, Mathieu.
significant impacts throughout the lifespan, preventing the negative repercussions of COVID-19 on children’s mental health is essential. Philosophy for children (P4C) and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) show promise in this regard. Objective: The goal of the present study was to compare the impact of online MBI and P4C interventions on mental health, within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We used a randomized cluster trial to assess and compare the impact of both interventions on elementary school students’ (N = 37) anxiety and inattention symptoms as well as on their basic psychological need satisfaction (BPN). Results: ANCOVAs revealed a significant effect of the P4C intervention on mental health difficulties, controlling for baseline levels. Participants in the P4C group showed lower scores on the measured symptoms at post-test than participants in the MBI group. Significant effects of the MBI on levels of BPN were also found. Participants in the MBI intervention reported greater BPN satisfaction at post-test than participants in the P4C intervention. Conclusion: Results from this study suggest that, in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, a P4C intervention centered around COVID-19 related themes may be helpful to reduce mental health difficulties, that a MBI may be useful to satisfy BPN, and that both interventions were easy to offer online to elementary school students. Future work including a larger sample size and follow-up measures is warranted. Public significance: Practice: Philosophy for children (P4C) and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can be used to foster mental health in elementary school students, in the current COVID-19 context. Policy: As we do not anticipate that facilitators will be allowed in schools during the 2020–2021 school year and that children will, most likely, be attending school in the current COVID-19 context, policymakers who want to implement psychological support measures in elementary schools should consider an online modality, which has shown in this study to work well, be feasible, and yield positive results on youth mental health.