Mindfulness in the NHS

Mindfulness in the NHS is traditionally contained within a strict framework linked to the requirements of delivery in medical settings for those diagnosed with mental health care issues.

Consequently, we feel the application of mindfulness in NHS and Health Care settings is well grounded by moral and ethical intentions and motivations to alleviate the suffering of those in need of mental health care.

However, with this necessarily strict framework of clinical application, we are also able to understand and accept there are limitations in the mindfulness interventions ability to address the wider social issues of identity based harm and discrimination.

Whilst there are many innovations in the pipeline, the humility of MBIT training allows us to recognise and accept that all programmes with a focused intention will have limitations outside of that focus, including those specifically designed, built and focused on alleviating mental health care needs.

Whilst brilliant at doing the job they are designed to do, to some degree, the brilliance of these programmes expressed by there focused attention, intention, motivation, purpose and abilities to alleviate a particular human experience of poor mental health, inadvertently, limits its application elsewhere.

As such, it is important to make clear distinctions between the intentions and motivation for mindfulness practice and the rationales for mindfulness delivery to patients of the NHS, NHS Staff engaging in practice for general health and wellbeing needs, and mindfulness teachers delivering to NHS patients and staff.

The rationale for making these distinctions being to ensure nuances in mindfulness practice, journeys and learning can be leveraged strategically within the NHS most effectively, and contextually to include social mindfulness where permitted.

A process that would offer a broader perspective of the social potential of mindfulness in nurturing a sense of solidarity through equality, equity, diversity and inclusion within the workplace and wider patient community.

Something that we feel is achievable by upskilling NHS mindfulness teachers with relevant EDI awareness, whilst also supporting NHS staff who engage with mindfulness practice for general health and wellbeing needs, to explore the relational aspects of mindfulness training in a more focused way that matures the practice from “me” to “we” and from the inside out.

Moreover, by leveraging the benefits from the various mindfulness interventions available to upskill staff and teachers within the NHS. It is considered that ever more nuanced approaches may arises to facilitate the flourishing of mindfulness through a culturally inclusive shift that broadens delivery of mindfulness utilising a community of practice approach that is equally brilliant in its focused intention, attention, motivation, purpose and abilities to build a sense of prosocial connection and solidarity that addresses isolation, loneliness and separations experienced as a result of identity based harm particularly.

Likewise, with greater awareness of the nuances between applications, context and their purpose, we aim to facilitate the NHS in finding ways to make space for both medical and socially focused programmes to be researched, recognised and deployed to facilitate a more compassionate and community based approach to maintaining and preventing health issues. Something that could be delivered through educational mindfulness programmes that address the social and cultural determinants of health and embrace the impact inequity, inequality, and discrimination have on personal health and subsequently the health care services, that we know needs addressing. 

We aim to focus on the preventative abilities of mindfulness through CPD provisions to NHS staff, NHS mindfulness Teachers and community health initiatives rather than as a patient intervention that is best left to NHS clinicians.  

However, by focusing our attention on offering continued professional development trainings to those both providing mindfulness, and working within the NHS more generally, we aim to advance mindfulness teaching and practice in the context of its ability to alleviate social and cultural identity based harm, inequality and trauma linked to marginalisation that also fosters deep solidarity between staff of this cherished and also challenged institution.


Mindfulness in the Criminal Justice System

Mindfulness in the criminal justice system is also normally restricted to the perceived evidence based approaches available. However, given that many of the issues within the criminal justice system are a direct result of social issues of inequity, inequality, injustice and discrimination for example. It feels important that our provisions in criminal justice sectors include educational elements and awareness of the social and cultural aspects of the lived experience that fuel criminal activity, and cause vulnerable members of society to become entangled with crime in the first place.

Our wish for collaboration

Ultimately, our collaborations within the criminal justice systems are focused on the provision of compassionate educational resources, that offer the criminal justice and reform systems access to alternative interventions and preventative measures. Measures that can be shaped collaboratively to nurture the reform and rehabilitation of offenders and victims of hate crime and discriminatory offences through an experiential educational learning process.  

In the context of the criminal justice system our mindfulness programmes are offered either as a preventative measure or intervention.  

It is also important to say that whilst there is often the perception that this training is just for those who fall foul of the Law. We consider our mindfulness approach to be grounded in preventative intervention first.

Prevention is better than cure

Consequently, we have also taken the time to create preventative materials for both those working within the criminal justice system and those who are vulnerable to criminality in the context of hate crime and discrimination. That offers a preventative measure and agent for prosocial agency and purpose, that we strongly believe that all staff working in sectors such as the police force, social services and the probationary services for example would benefit from experiencing and utilising.

Particularly, if we consider the daily decisions made that would benefit from clearer insights and awareness of the social and cultural situation or context as a means of coming to better decisions that can impact a persons life physically, psychologically and emotionally, in very unpredictable ways.

Mindfulness Based Inclusion Training also provides the sector with an alternative option to unconscious bias training, because it invites an exploration of inclusion and exclusion more socially, collectively and institutionally, rather than the person centred focus of unconscious bias training.

As such, MBIT feels more productive and active without placing blame on the individuals unconscious bias, that by nature is unconscious and thus to some degree an excuse for it to play out. 

This is not to say that we undermine persons centred approaches to bias training or mindfulness as it is clear that we have developed important interventions that could be targeted at reforming and rehabilitating perpetrators or victims of hate crime and discrimination as required.

A committed cultural shift through productive collaboration.

When introducing Mindfulness to the criminal justice sector and institutions, it feels important that senior management engage with the programmes experientially first to understand there potential and add experiential and contextual expertise to what is to be delivered.

We don’t try to bombard those we work with scientific papers for our evidence base because the bulk of the current scientific evidence base is limited to the clinical setting that cannot be transposed to this context. As such, we require experiential engagement as part of the organisations process of building its own evidence base. This means we normally start with those at the “top”, or those who wish to implement the intervention, in order to ensure the people we work with understand the offerings on an experiential level as ones own evidence base.

Who feels it, knows it   

As such, our work in the criminal justice system, as per the health care system, is rooted in collaboration. Whether that be with clinical experts, social and community health care experts or the lived experience of participants. At the UMF, we aim to ensure all views are able to come together in understanding of difference and commonalities that help move society forward.  

This process of experiential introduction also ensures the intentions and motivations of the application aligns morally, ethically and professionally with all parties involved and that the initiative itself is grounded in solidarity and appropriateness of what is to be delivered.

Please get in touch if you would be interested in exploring how the Urban Mindfulness Foundation may be able to support the needs of your policing, probationary service, social care or community care project in 2022.


Courses offered in Health and Criminal Justice settings

  • Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) – Bespoke
  • Compassion Based Living Course (CBLC) – Bespoke
  • Mindfulness Based Inclusion Course (MBIT) – Bespoke

We offer the above courses in the 8 week formats, however the mindfulness based inclusion training course, or elements of it, can be offered in a variety of bespoke formats from half day work shops, full day workshops and 8 week or annual formats depending on requirements. Moreover, whilst the above course curriculums offer the foundational elements of teachings, because our services to this sector is all contextually bespoke. We take the time to understand the expected journey and profile of the participants in order to tailor the approach to context but always around the themes of equality, equity, diversity and inclusion that benefits all of us as one human species. 


The Mindfulness Based Living Course and Compassion Based Living Course

The standard mindfulness programmes are offered in a weekly 2.5 hour format delivered over 8 weeks.

The MBLC programme particularly is also one of the courses listed on the British Association of Mindfulness Based Approaches (BAMBA) website that was designed by the Mindfulness Association and is thus considered to be evidence based.

Importantly the MBLC is a great starting or entry level course designed to help beginners establish a strong foundation and understanding of Mindfulness Practice from a western psychology, neuroscience and eastern philosophical perspective that falls into daily living.

The MBLC programme is also a prerequisite for completing the Compassion Based Living Course, the Mindfulness Based Inclusion training programmes and dot.b courses we also offer.

For more information about the MBLC and CBLC programmes click here

For More about the MBIT Programme click Here

Important General Information

These are educational courses designed to help develop an in-depth personal experience of mindfulness and to build the foundations of a sustained personal practice, with a view to applying this in your life and perhaps also in your professional work. These courses are primarily experiential but also educational and we would like to invite you to immerse yourself as best you can in the process.

Commitment, Bonuses and General Guidance

We would very much like to encourage you to attend all of the group sessions, if at all possible, and if you can’t make it, please let us know beforehand. We also encourage you attend the drop in classes available to deepen your learning. The drop in classes are also offered on a donation basis but free if you are on a current paid course program. 

You are invited to wear loose but warm and comfortable clothing for the course that is appropriate for gentle body movement and stretching. If you already use a meditation bench, stool, cushions or blanket, you are welcome to bring them along with you.