Mindful Public Policy

As a therapist who both uses mindfulness and meditation with clients and also practices it, I can attest to the benefits for people living with depression, anxiety and more.  So, I always like hearing calls for expanding support for mindfulness meditation — particularly through public policy as perhaps part of a broader mental health strategy.  The problem is that it is not enough for example to just provide opportunities for meditation in schools and other public institutions when the nature of work today (yes the place that we spend most of our waking hours) — in both public and private institutions — are more stressful than they have been for a very long time.  We are in a time when, due to technology, work bleeds into our home life; where Canadians in particular, feelings precarious in a world of contract-based work, fail to take earned (and much needed) holiday time to recharge batteries; where depression and anxiety are still largely stigmatized at school and in the workplace; and, where people who need a mental health break are often penalized in some form or another — risking safety, security and future job options — only complicating issues such as burnout and other distressing mental health issues that affect not only their professional performance but their relationships outside of work.  Public policy must be comprehensive.  Teaching meditation or offering classes at school and work is great.  But we’ve seen yoga classes introduced at some workplaces and it sometimes seems as if it’s a nice public relations idea that really glosses over the idea that work itself is only demanding more of people’s time and energy.