The MYRIAD project: What has the Mindfulness in Schools Project learned?


  • MYRIAD confirmed that mindfulness improves the wellbeing of teachers and school culture. It also showed the central importance of teachers’ competence in terms of pupil outcomes. We will continue to ensure that all teachers we train have a solid grounding in mindfulness for themselves, both to establish a sufficient level of understanding and skills to teach mindfulness effectively and enhance their wellbeing. 
  • The results suggest that different pupils respond to mindfulness in different ways. We will continue to develop a differentiated response to make the teaching of mindfulness accessible and engaging for a wide range of pupils and contexts and encourage all teachers we train to develop their responsiveness and flexibility in teaching mindfulness to young people. 
  • There were slightly poorer outcomes for pupils with mental health problems. We will continue to encourage the teachers we train and their schools to take care when teaching mindfulness to pupils with mental health vulnerabilities, to identify and meet their needs and adapt the teaching as needed. 
  • Pupils from poorer backgrounds had slightly better outcomes than average. We will continue efforts to reach children and young people from economically disadvantaged areas, including via specific fundraising initiatives.
  • We endorse the suggestions by the MYRIAD team that the teachers we train are encouraged to co-create approaches and resources with young people that are fun and engaging for diverse groups and will continue our long-term work in this direction.
  • We note that those pupils that practiced outside the classroom had better outcomes, but that not many did this practice beyond the school. We will continue our work with the teachers we train to take mindfulness skills and approaches beyond the classroom into the natural settings in which pupils operate.
  • We will also increasingly acknowledge part of our training for teachers in schools is to enable a fuller understanding of what mindfulness actually is, enabling more people across the lifecourse to access it, having been introduced to knowledge and skills from the earliest age possible.
  • As mentioned above, the training improved the school climate/culture. We will continue to develop work to link mindfulness with the creation of a positive school environment, acknowledging how vital this is for the wellbeing of the whole school community. 
  • The original aim of the MYRIAD project was to discover if scaling up the successful .b programme was possible. We conclude it was not in this case. In this particular study, problems of low levels of selection bias introduced by the research-driven need to ensure that teachers had no previous experience with mindfulness, and low levels of teacher competency (on average) may well explain this. We will continue to develop at our own pace, to develop and deliver our programmes with teachers and schools naturally drawn to the process and to seek out ways of demystifying what mindfulness is. We will continue to reach out to teachers and schools with an existing interest in mindfulness and focus on the development of teacher skills.
  • We continue our work confidently while continuing to learn from the evolving evidence base.

Background: what was the MYRIAD project?

See a plain language guide to the MYRIAD project and links to the academic papers that have emerged from it.

MYRIAD (My Resilience in Adolescence) was an eight-year research project, led by the University of Oxford and funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project involved more than 28,000 young adolescents aged 11- 14, 650 teachers, and 100 schools. MYRIAD’s stated aim was to discover whether “schools-based mindfulness training is an effective, cost-effective, accessible and scale-able way to promote mental health and well-being in adolescence.”  

The main part of the study was a large randomised controlled trial involving 85 schools and 8,376 teenagers, evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of schools-based mindfulness training on risk-for-depression, social-emotional-behavioural strengths and difficulties, and well-being in 11-14 year olds. The mindfulness training was taught by school teachers after they had first learned mindfulness for themselves and then attended a four-day training to teach mindfulness to students. 

The project compared the mindfulness training to normal PSHE teaching. It also explored whether mindfulness impacted differently on different groups of pupils, how popular it was with pupils, the impact of practice outside the classroom, the impact of teacher competence, and whether mindfulness training had wider effects on teachers’ mental health and school climate. 

MYRIAD also reflected on the challenges of offering mindfulness training more widely in schools, and what the team felt was needed to do this well. It made suggestions for wider environmental changes that might support pupil mental health and wellbeing in schools. 

Why was the .b curriculum chosen?

Mindfulness in Schools Project’s .b curriculum was the UK-based mindfulness curriculum with the largest published evidence base. It had recently been the subject of a controlled trial with 522 pupils, taught by 9 teachers in 9 different schools, a trial which acted as something of a pilot for MYRIAD. The trial showed a positive impact on pupils’ mental health, namely stress, depression and wellbeing and the team commented:

The findings provide promising evidence of the programme’s acceptability and efficacy.

Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) was happy to agree to the .b curriculum being used. We knew that previous research on .b across several studies showed positive results, and we were getting constant positive feedback from pupils and teachers. As far as we were concerned the aim was not to re-examine the success of this programme as it is normally delivered, but to find out if the successful results could be replicated when the process was scaled up to large numbers and with teachers and schools new to mindfulness.  We were keen to help test the scalability hypothesis and to view this as a learning experience for us all.

Key findings of the MYRIAD project

  • Teachers reported lower levels of burnout.
  • Teachers reported an improved school climate, especially a sense of mutual respect. 
  • The mindfulness intervention was not better than “teaching as usual” (normal PSHE lessons) for students in terms of impacts on depression, or well-being. There was some indication that it was better value for money
  • The average rating for how ‘helpful’ students found the curriculum was 4.7 out of 10. However, scores were heavily polarised between strongly positive and strongly negative. 
  • The average level of competence achieved was 3/6, ‘‘advanced beginner’. (Teachers who fell below that level were still included in the data analysis”.) 
  • The teachers who were most skilled in teaching mindfulness training also had the highest rates of young people practising mindfulness, learning new skills and showing greater benefit from the training.
  • The majority (80%) of young people did not do the required homework. When young people did do the home mindfulness practices they became more mindful and enjoyed better mental health. 
  • The intervention was rated more positively and resulted in higher rates of practice in girls, children with white ethnicity, those from more deprived schools (higher rates of free school meals) and schools with less existing focus on social and emotional learning. It was rated more negatively and had less impact on pupils who are more at risk of mental health problems

8 things MiSP can learn from MYRIAD

1. Teach mindfulness for the teacher’s wellbeing and understanding

2. Continue to develop a differentiated approach

3. Take care to meet the needs of those with mental health issues

4. Reach out to pupils from disadvantaged areas

5. Encourage practice outside the classroom

6. Link more with work on school climate

7. Note that mindfulness cannot be ‘scaled up’ without laying important foundations first

8. Looking more deeply at the unexpected findings - the central importance of teacher readiness and competence

Conclusion: continue to develop at our own pace

Throughout the 8-year course of the MYRIAD project, we have continued to develop and deliver our programmes in a steady way in their natural settings while learning from research into our programmes. Teachers and schools have continued to provide consistently positive feedback. 

We concur with the reflections of the independent think tank, the Mindfulness Initiative, that this approach is safe and appropriate to continue. We will proceed with this approach, with confidence, while continuing to learn from the emerging evidence base.

In our view, these findings suggest we should not attempt a compulsory mass roll out of SBMT (school-based mindfulness training). Any expansion should continue to be by invitation with those teachers naturally interested, and include resources to explain and provide a taste to other teachers new to what mindfulness is. We can safely continue to recommend and support sound programmes of SBMT which are developing well at their own pace in their natural settings. We should take the development of such programmes carefully, invite and train only teachers and schools who positively opt to do so, support teachers and schools new to this teaching, and take steps to try to ensure that teachers are reaching the necessary standard. All of this will take substantial time and resources… (continue reading)


We thank the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust for the major contribution the MYRIAD project has made to our knowledge and approach

Further reading


Discover more about the outcomes of mindfulness in education