Yoga: I’m on a mission, to work with mental health service provision

I’m on a mission and here is the first of what will be a number of communications I will be sending to local mental health service providers and organisations working with marginalised and difficult sections of our communities…

Mental illness is an issue very close to my heart having experienced close hand, it’s detrimental effects on partners and parents.  The power of yoga and meditation to help overcome this deserves to be shared and I am looking at ways that I can go about this. Follow me as I approach the challenge over the next few weeks. Please feel free to comment with any suggestions!

Young inmate looking depressed in prison cell

Hi Tom

I am a yoga alliance qualified yoga teacher based in Wiveliscombe, passionate about the transformational power of yoga and I wondered if it might be possible to have a chat with you about offering services to the young people you work with?

According to the Centre for Mental Health charity, children who end up in custody are three times more likely to have mental health problems than those who do not. We also know they are very likely to have more than one mental health problem, to have a learning disability, to be dependent on drugs and alcohol and to have experienced a range of other challenges. Many of these needs go unrecognised and unmet. At Ashfield prison in Bristol, a third of the population are on the mental health team’s books, a large number are taking drugs for ADHD and depression, a significant number have low IQ, and very high levels of anxiety.

In light of the growing body of evidence demonstrating the positive impact yoga has on mental health and its increased use in youth detention centres, I wondered if it might be an area you are exploring? I’ve cited below, one such example*.

I’m aware of the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion Project and wondered if partnering with them might be an option to run a course of yoga? I would be happy to travel to suitable premises within the Bridgwater to Wiveliscombe radius.

I am currently running a course of yoga at Somerset college of art and technology with a group of people with learning disabilities and another at Richard Huish college. I am particularly keen to work with marginalised and difficult groups such as young offenders. If you’d like to discuss this further, I can be contacted via this email and perhaps we could arrange a suitable time to meet/talk over the phone?

Kind regards
Nicola Carley

Bluebird Bliss
For love and happiness from the inside out
@bluebird_bliss

07811 344621

*At Juvenile Hall in Oakland, USA, the Niroga Institute has been running yoga classes amongst detainees with the aim of teaching them life skills and techniques for managing stress with so far, real success.

Yahru Baruti, senior psychiatric social worker in Unit 6 at Alameda juvenile hall, said yoga has proven to be “a very valuable tool kids can use. We remind them to take what they learn here and bring it out into their lives. So, if they are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping, we ask them what they learned in yoga that they can apply.”

18 months after the program was started, juvenile hall officials and Niroga believe they have measurable evidence that yoga has helped the teens. In a study with the help of Kaiser Permanente and UC Berkeley, Niroga measured stress rates experienced by teenagers in the program and others who elected not to participate.

Bidyut Bose, the founder and director of Niroga, said it used two psychological testing methods: a 10-point perceived stress scale, and a 30-point Integral Health Scale. He said that within three months of the program, “statistically significant decline” in stress levels was detected in the stress test and general improvement in health in the integral health scale.

“When I first started coming, I thought it would be kind of boring and weird because I’ve never been introduced to something like this,” said one 17-year-old girl who has been at the center for about a month. “But the more I got into it and allowed the yoga to help me and accept it, then I started to appreciate it.” She said she wants to teach yoga someday.

Yoga youth offending, yoga depression, yoga mental illness

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