Mindfulness in Healthcare – Information for GPs and Healthcare Professionals

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach which involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings so we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them.

It is not:

  • positive psychology
  • a means of escaping unpleasant feelings or
  • a relaxation exercise.

Mindfulness is an approach to life that can help people relate more skilfully to thoughts, emotions and body sensations as they arise. Although commonly associated with Buddhism, developments in psychology and neuroscience support mindfulness as being an inherent part of the human mind that can be developed and enhanced through non-religious meditative practice.


Understanding of the brain has been completely rewritten over the past three decades with advances in technology and neuro-scientific evidence continuing to support the beneficial effects of mindfulness on both mental and physical health. As the graph below (American Mindfulness Research Association, AMRA, 2018) shows research into mindfulness has grown substantially over the past 20 years and is now one of the most thoroughly researched of all psychotherapy methods. Mindfulness is considered an underlying factor in effective psychotherapy and emotional healing in general (Chris Germer, Ph.D, the mindful path to self-compassion, 2009 p4).



Research Resources

Mindfulnet.org, generously developed and maintained by Juliet Adams, brings together a directory resource containing references to many of the researched applications of mindfulness.

AMRA, provide a scientific database of academic publication references on mindfulness.

NICE Guidance

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)* is recommended in NICE guidelines as a treatment of choice for recurrent depression.

Several clinical trials have shown that MBCT is effective for people prone to depression…

In a study of 145 patients with recurrent depression who were in remission, only 37% of patients who took part in an MBCT course relapsed over the following year, compared to 66% in a control group (Teesdale et al., 2000).

Another study showed that MBCT reduced relapse rates by more than a half over 12 months (36% of patients in the MBCT group relapsed, versus 78% of the control group (Ma and Teesdale, 2004).

A further trial found that MBCT was more effective in preventing relapse than maintenance anti-depressant treatment alone and better at improving quality of life (Kuyken et al., 2008).

The British Journal of Psychiatry article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: a promising new approach to preventing depressive relapse” provides further information for GPs wishing to consider the rationale and research behind MBCT.

Some misconceptions…

Mindfulness is NOT:
  • Emptying our minds
  • Becoming emotionless
  • Escaping pain
  • Withdrawing from life
  • Seeking blissful states
Mindfulness IS:
  • Attention training
  • Understanding the impact of stress on our bodies, thoughts, emotions and relationships
  • Befriending our minds and our emotions
  • Working with pain
  • Living life to the full

Mindfulness courses for healthcare

Over the past three decades Mindfulness Based Interventions (MBIs) have been applied in clinical settings worldwide for the promotion of physical and emotional well-being among individuals suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, cardiac disease, high blood pressure and a wide variety of chronic or recurrent health conditions such as CFS/ME and fibromyalgia.

We currently offer the following 8 week (2 – 2.5 hours per week) structured group courses which teach mindfulness meditation as an effective counter-balance to the stresses of life.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT combines mindfulness and CBT and has a clinically proven record of preventing the relapse of depression. It is recommended in NICE guidelines for the treatment of recurrent depression. Read more about Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR has a wider scope and is attended by participants from a range of backgrounds. It teaches mindfulness as a life skill, and is recommended both for general wellbeing and in the treatment of a range of conditions (including stress, anxiety, depression, ME, IBS and high blood pressure). Read more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

Introducing Mindfulness to Patients

Clinical evidence supports mindfulness meditation as beneficial to our health and wellbeing and has become established as an effective way to cope with today’s demands and expectations that face us all.

Mindfulness also continues to be popular with the international best seller Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world,  consistently featuring in Amazon’s top 100 books since its publication in 2011.

There is however a lot of misunderstanding about what mindfulness is and what attending an 8 week mindfulness course would entail. We have therefore developed a patient information sheet for those interested in attending an mindfulness course, which addresses some of the common misconceptions and also highlights the level of personal commitment required.

Please see our eventbrite page for details of forthcoming course dates and further information. If you click attend and then scroll down you will find further course information.

For anyone who would like to find out more before committing to an 8 week course we would recommend one of the following books:

Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Prof Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Mindfulness for Health: A practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman

If you would like copies of mindfulness flyers either to display in your practice or as a means of introducing mindfulness to patients then please get in touch.

Referring Patients

Please note: our courses are not currently available through single-point-of-access, so you will need to apply for exceptional funding / individual commissioning from your CCG.

Please use the following links to access

Training for GPs and Healthcare Professionals

If you would like to find out more about mindfulness, from either a personal or professional perspective, then you might like to consider the following options (available on both a public and commissioned basis).

  • attending an introductory workshop
  • attending an 8 week MBSR course
  • attending a Mindfulness for Healthcare Professional Skills Development Workshop (for those who have completed an 8 week course).

Hull York Medical School also offer Introduction to Mindfulness Workshops in partnership with Dr Kamila Hortynska. To find out more please email Jackie.Houlton@hyms.ac.uk.

Those interested in GP wellbeing may find this article of interest which highlights the pressures faced by GPs and how mindfulness may be beneficial in terms of increased job satisfaction, quality of life and compassion, in addition to patient satisfaction.

Further Information

If you would like any further information please contact us at relax@yorkmbsr.co.uk.