The Mindfulness Initiative welcomes the announcement by the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) that depression can be treated effectively by mindfulness programmes.

In NICE’s new guidelines on the management and treatment of depression in adults, mindfulness features in a menu of alternative psychological and psychosocial alternatives to antidepressants to be offered to people experiencing a new episode of ‘less severe depression’, with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) being presented as an exemplar within the mindfulness and meditation class.

This is a significant change to previous NICE guidelines on depression, which had recommended MBCT as a treatment to prevent relapse into depression. It recognises the evidence that mindfulness is effective for individuals who are currently experiencing depression, as well as for those who are currently well but at risk of relapse.

NICE’s evidence-based approach means this development is a major step forwards for the application and availability of mindfulness programmes for people with depression, and one that is likely to have influence internationally.

Jenny Edwards CBE, Health Policy Lead for The Mindfulness Initiative (previously CEO of the Mental Health Foundation) welcomes the move: “A national public health review of prescribing practice revealed a growing and high-level dependency on antidepressants. Guidance to health staff to offer alternatives, including mindfulness, is therefore very welcome and significantly opens up choice for patients who are seeking help with depression”.

Ruth Ormston, Co-Director of the Mindfulness Initiative adds: “The fact that mindfulness is used within the population at large, with many accessing it regardless of mental health status, makes it a popular, non-stigmatising and non-invasive treatment. We hope this NICE recommendation helps more people with depression by enabling them to access evidence-based mindfulness programmes through an NHS referral”.

You can read a fuller summary of what the guidelines say around mindfulness, and the points raised by the Mindfulness Initiative as s stakeholder during the consultation process here.