Our vision is a world where mindfulness and compassion can help everybody flourish and live to their full potential, and nobody is held back by mental or physical health challenges.
Sussex Mindfulness Centre (SMC) aims to improve the wellbeing and mental health of people who use our services. We do this by running mindfulness and compassion programmes, training teachers, and conducting research.
We pursue our mission in ways that are congruent with the principles, values and philosophies that underpin the practice of mindfulness, compassion and the NHS. Our mindfulness training is based on evidence for what works and what is safe, and we evaluate what we do to allow for continuous innovation and improvement.
We aim to:
- support Sussex Partnership staff to run high quality, safe and effective mindfulness groups and interventions.
- provide high quality training programmes that produce safe, effective and inspiring mindfulness teachers and practitioners working in the NHS and the community.
- make our events, teaching, teacher training and research relevant, stimulating and accessible to as broad a range of participants as possible, reflecting the communities we serve.
- responsibly explore and research the use of mindfulness and compassion-based interventions with groups which have the hitherto untapped potential to benefit from them.
- develop, adapt and evaluate traditional and compassion-based interventions so they are tailored to meet the needs of groups facing specific challenges.
- explore ways in which mindfulness and compassion practice can contribute to building workplace cultures in which employees can flourish.
- promote and disseminate the benefits of mindfulness and compassion approaches to the private and public sector to benefit the community and to generate income that sustains the work of SMC.
- support service-user involvement in SMC planning and decision making through the Mindfulness Advocates’ Group.
- continue to be financially self-sustaining.
Activities and achievements to date
Training and Governance
In terms of provision, we now have over 60 teachers trained in various types of mindfulness intervention. All our Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) teachers meet rigorous governance standards overseen by the Governance Advisory Forum in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. These standards are either equal to or more demanding than those suggested nationally. Where no national standards exist (for example in delivering mindfulness interventions that are not the standard eight-week mindfulness programme such as MBCT), we have developed our own sets of standards. These standards aim to ensure that mindfulness-based interventions delivered by SMC staff are safe and of a reliably high quality.
We offer four annual mindfulness/compassion training programmes:
- The Foundation Training in Mindfulness-Based Approaches enables graduates to teach MBCT or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and to meet the training requirements for joining the UK list of teachers who meet the national Good Practice Guidelines (GPGs). We are one of only four centres in the UK to be recognised as teacher trainers of MBCT by the international listing, Access MBCT, which is hosted by one of the founders of the approach.
- The training programme in Adapted Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) enables people to teach non eight-week mindfulness-based interventions safely and effectively.
- The UK Mindfulness Centres Collaboration training in delivering MBCT in IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is a national training programme led by SMC which provides teacher training to cognitive behaviour therapists in IAPT services.
- Training in delivering Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), including the Core Skills workshop and the Teacher Training programme.
In addition, we offer master classes with nationally and internationally renowned mindfulness teachers, in addition to experienced local teachers. All of these are available to Trust staff and applicants from other organisations and/or the public.
Trust approved SMC teachers offer mindfulness taster sessions (usually 60-90 minutes long), eight-week MBCT or MBSR training programmes, drop-in sessions (between 30-60 minutes long) and day retreats to Sussex Partnership service users and staff. Experienced teachers provide mindfulness-based supervision and consultation to staff across Sussex Partnership. SMC teachers also provide mindfulness groups and interventions to staff from a variety of other organisations. Evaluations of our eight-week MBCT programmes have shown large and significant effects in reducing anxiety, depression and improving quality of life and self-compassion among service users; and in reducing stress and improving quality of life and compassion in staff.
In addition, we offer adapted introductory mindfulness courses for Recovery College (education for people recovering from mental health challenges), adapted mindfulness groups for young people, adapted groups within pain management programmes, and a session in the Sussex Partnership Trust staff induction on self-compassion and compassion for others. We also offer mindfulness specific supervision groups across the Trust.
We are also actively engaged in conducting research to contribute to the evidence base on effectiveness and safety. Currently funded research studies include:
- randomised controlled trials of mindfulness-based self-help for healthcare staff.
- randomised controlled trials of remotely delivered MBCT programmes and of a clinician-guided MBCT self-help course for people experiencing depression.
- a feasibility study of a mindfulness-based intervention for people with an emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) diagnosis.
- a feasibility study of a mindfulness intervention for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
In addition to leading on our own research studies, we have contributed to various national mindfulness research initiatives including the ASPIRE study exploring Accessibility and Implementation of MBCT in NHS services. We also have contributed significantly to peer-reviewed academic literature and mindfulness and compassion literature more broadly, publishing findings of our research studies so that our research makes a difference beyond SMC. As a group, we have published over 50 peer reviewed papers and five book chapters.
Outreach and National Policy
We have a network of experienced mindfulness teachers and trainers who have provided a range of mindfulness-based services to other public sector organisations, including The Office for National Statistics, East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
SMC collaborates with several other institutions. We have good links through our research with Sussex, Bangor, Oxford and Exeter universities. We also work with other NHS Trusts that provide mindfulness training such as Tees Esk and Wear Valley and Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trusts.
SMC have contributed to national networks and policy including the Mindfulness Initiative and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness where we made a significant contribution to the ‘Mindful Nation’ report. We have also taken up leadership roles in the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches.
Objectives for 2021 and beyond
- To continue to offer MBCT and MBIs as equitably as possible in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as appropriate to populations that can benefit.
- To support the retention, morale, engagement and self-care of staff in Sussex Partnership and in other organisations by providing adapted MBCT and MBCT for Life programmes and mindfulness related sessions and approaches that also serve to build a more compassionate and mindful culture.
Service User Involvement
- To continue to support the reach of the Mindfulness Advocates’ Group in the full range of our activities.
- To continue to improve service user, carer and staff experience by evaluating the impact of our mindfulness-based programmes and training, making changes where necessary in response to evaluation, and thereby improving their delivery.
- To seek funding for research projects that expand the international evidence for the use of adapted and innovative mindfulness and compassion practice with groups of people whose potential to benefit from these approaches has not yet been established.
- To disseminate the findings of our research and practice in the peer-reviewed academic literature.
Outreach and Policy
- To continue to contribute to local and national policy documents on mindfulness and compassion in health care and in public life.
- To continue to collaborate with our university and NHS partners both locally and nationally.
- To collaborate with locally based colleagues with an interest and/or skill in mindfulness delivery and the capacity to help us build our business profile either through their expertise or networks.
- To generate income through this work so SMC can remain financially viable and to support a small team that will enable it to develop its activities to serve the welfare of the community.
Training and Governance
- To continue to support the training and supervision of mindfulness teachers from all professions to a high standard, and to people outside the Trust.
- To encourage the retention and morale of mindfulness teachers by supporting their development: for example, by training more experienced teachers as mindfulness supervisors and trainers, by offering opportunities to teach widely within and outside the Trust, and by providing low cost and high quality continuing professional development.
- To support a sense of community through communications, and events such as the annual conference and by supporting and hosting regional teachers' meetings.
- To liaise with Sussex Partnership Clinical Academic Groups (CAGs) to ensure mindfulness and compassion interventions are considered where there is an existing evidence base, and that advice on quality assurance is provided.
- To liaise with Care Delivery Services (CDSs) in Sussex Partnership to respond to some of their needs with the variety of mindfulness and compassion work we can offer.
- To work towards building a more sustainable SMC team that includes more substantive and permanent posts supporting business development and communications, and which continues to support and develop those in post.
Robert Marx (SMC Practice, Training and Governance Lead)
Clara Strauss (SMC Research Lead)