Background: Today’s teenagers face several challenges that result in poor mental health, depression and anxiety. Several studies in the past decade have explored meditation as adjunctive therapy for mental illness however, the long-term residual benefits of meditation have rarely been studied.
Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate the benefits of a four day meditation retreat on cognitive abilities, mental and emotional well-being of teenagers.
Methods: 303 teenagers participated in this study. Cognitive abilities of the students were measured using the Six letter cancellation test (SLCT). Mental and emotional well-being was measured using World Health Organization Well-being index (WHO-5) and Strength and Difficulties questionnaire (SDQ), respectively. Data analysis was performed using paired sample t-test and repeated measure ANOVA.
Results: Teenagers demonstrated a 33% increase in average accuracy for SLCT post intervention. WHO-5 mental well-being index scores also increased significantly (p <0.001). The participants experienced a significant reduction in emotional problems and hyperactivity as measured by SDQ. The benefits of the retreat continued to persist, when measured after 40 days of the intervention.
Conclusion: A well-structured meditation retreat has significant and long-term benefits on teenagers’ mental well-being, emotional stability and cognitive capacity.