MYRIAD project team completes major milestone of trial recruitment

MYRIAD project team completes major milestone of trial recruitment

A University of Oxford team based in the Department of Psychiatry has reached a major milestone in the timeline of a long-term project examining whether mindfulness in schools can improve adolescents’ mental health and resilience.

“We are now gearing up for the next stage, when we’ll be travelling to each and every school to meet around 25,000 school children.

The team (pictured above), which has been working on the MYRIAD project for the last two years, have exceeded their original recruitment target of 76 schools throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. For the next major stage, which involves visiting each school, the team have expanded from an initial 4 staff to over 20.

Most of these new recruits, who come from a range of teaching, psychology and research backgrounds, will spend the autumn travelling the length and breadth of the UK to meet Senior Management teams and teachers – and engage students in Years 7 and 8 in the project.

Elizabeth Nuthall, MYRIAD Trial Manager (pictured below left), says, “This is a major landmark for the project team who have all worked amazingly hard over the last few months guiding schools all over the country through the recruitment process. We are now gearing up for the next stage, when we’ll be travelling to each and every school to meet around 25,000 school children who will be participating in the first stage of the project”.

Pupils at the secondary schools (which are broadly representative of educational establishments in the UK overall, including tiny independents and large comprehensives, single and mixed sex provision, and located in both high and low deprivation areas) will choose individually whether to take part in the study before filling out a self-completion questionnaire. This questionnaire will provide baseline data on the pupils’ well-being, mental health and behaviour at the outset of the study. Selected groups will then take part in a further four assessments throughout the lifetime of the trial, in which half of the schools will be randomly selected to receive mindfulness training, and the other half will continue teaching as usual.

MYRIAD Schools Liaison Liz Lord (pictured above right) says, “The next stage of MYRIAD is very exciting for the team. We will be visiting all of our schools and meeting the wonderful head teachers, staff and pupils who have given their precious time and energy to this research. These schools have already demonstrated their commitment to help us answer the vital questions around ‘mindfulness in schools’ and whether it has the potential to make a difference to pupils and staff. With the tremendous time pressures on schools at the moment we are extremely grateful to all our schools and are deeply committed to fostering close working relationships with them.”

She adds, “We will be using the combined expertise of the research team to not only collect the data we require but also to raise the aspirations of all the pupils and staff we encounter on our visits. For some pupils, seeing a research team ‘in action’ within their school may inspire them in their future career direction”.

Mindfulness programmes have become increasingly popular as a way to improve wellbeing in schools in recent years. The MYRIAD project, which is funded by Wellcome (formerly the Wellcome Trust), will examine whether Mindfulness Training does indeed improve resilience in adolescents when compared to usual school provision, by looking at the mental health and wellbeing of the participating young people over a three year period. University of Oxford Research Lead Dr Catherine Crane adds, “The aim of the trial, which will produce preliminary results in 2021, is to provide robust evidence on whether or not the introduction of a mindfulness programme to schools produces measurable improvements in pupil mental health and wellbeing. This evidence will be useful to schools considering whether or not to implement a mindfulness programme and wishing to make an evidence-based decision”.

The project is led by Mark Williams and Willem Kuyken at the University of Oxford, with Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of University College London, and Tim Dalgleish of the Medical Research Council.

Although recruitment has completed, the team are operating a waitlist in case any school has to withdraw from the trial due to extenuating circumstances. Schools interested in taking part in the study should contact