About the Project

About the Project


There is an urgent need to improve children's and adolescents' well-being in sub-Saharan Africa. The mental well-being of children and adolescents is poor, and their educational attainment is low. Little is being done to improve their mental well-being, and there are few services available for those that need them.

The World Health Organisation recommends preventative mental health interventions in schools. Mindfulness has proven to be an acceptable and effective use of resources in countries like the UK. When children and adolescents focus on being mindful, they slow down, take their time, and focus on something in a way that is both relaxing and stress-free. Mindfulness involves a combination of breathing exercises, visualisation, body awareness, and relaxation. Practising mindfulness makes children and adolescents happier. It improves their attention span, helps them manage stress, increases their sense of well-being, and improves their communication skills. It also improves their school performance. Teaching mindfulness also improves the mental well-being of teachers.

We do not know if mindfulness improves the well-being of children and adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a need to know if it does so and if it would be a good use of government resources. We have designed a project which will help answer these questions.

Where we will deliver the project, and who will do it

We will deliver the project in Ethiopia and Rwanda between 2022 and 2026. Rwanda and Ethiopia are two of the poorest countries in the world. The wellbeing of children is poor in both countries, and school attainment is low. Researchers from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and the UK will collaborate on the project. Our research team includes health experts, social scientists, and teacher educators. We have an international advisory board, including government officials from both countries. Community members, including parents, teachers, children, and adolescents, will help us design the mindfulness intervention.

What we will do

We will research ways of providing an affordable and acceptable mindfulness intervention that improves children's and adolescents' well-being. We will work with parents and policymakers to agree on delivering and testing it. Teacher-educators working with primary school teachers will develop an appropriate mindfulness intervention. Teachers involved in developing the intervention will train other teachers in their schools. Teachers will deliver the intervention as part of the primary school curriculum so that it reaches all children.

We will test the intervention to provide policymakers with high-quality evidence on how well it works. We will also look at the costs and benefits of delivering it in all schools. The testing will include talking to children and adolescents, their teachers, and parents about their experiences of the intervention. We will also test children's and adolescents' mental well-being before we deliver the intervention and after, to see what improvement it makes. We will also compare children who received the mindfulness training with similar children who did not. This will control for the effects of other changes in children’s lives which may be going on at the same time.

We will provide feedback on all our findings to policymakers in Rwanda and Ethiopia. This will include the findings from an 'economic model' showing the potential cost savings and benefits of introducing mindfulness practices in all schools.

We will tell international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund about our findings. We will disseminate the findings through our website and social media in French and English. We will invite relevant organisations from across Sub-Saharan Africa to regular webinars disseminating information about the project.

A training programme will educate the next generation of researchers in transdisciplinary health research. Early career researchers will be involved in every stage of the research, from design to the publication of the findings.

Why this research is important

What happens during childhood has a strong influence on children’s future mental health. Improving children's and adolescents' well-being will enable them to enjoy their childhood and develop to their full potential. It will also improve their lives as adults, making them happier, less likely to develop mental and physical illnesses and better able to play a full role in society. Also, it reduces healthcare expenditure.


Our Approach

Our aim: To identify, develop, implement, and evaluate an affordable, effective, equitable and trusted strategy for promoting the wellbeing of children and adolescents.

The planned activities of the six work packages

Work Package


WP1: Context, Situational Analysis, Community and Policy Actors Engagement

  1. To understand the policy context;

  2. To elicit community and policy actors' collective priorities for CA mental wellbeing;

  3. To gain community and policy actors input on a whole school intervention to promote CA mental wellbeing.

WP2: Context Specific Intervention, Design and Delivery

  1. To develop and deliver a culturally appropriate whole school intervention to promote CA mental wellbeing, working with teachers, parents CA, community members and policy actors.

WP3: Applied Health Research

  1. To evaluate the intervention using a controlled trial and participatory, qualitative and quantitative research;

  2. To carry out a cost-effectiveness analysis of the intervention.

WP4: Education and Training

  1. To increase capacity for carrying out needs led applied health research in Ethiopia and Rwanda to deliver the project and contribute to the de-colonization of research in SSA. Includes the training in PAR integral to CEI in WPs 1, 2 & 3.

View our open access training space here.

WP5: Dissemination, Advocacy and Sustainability

  1. To ensure the rapid, most appropriate and widest dissemination of the findings from every stage of the research to local schools and communities, local, national regional and international policy actors and academics.

WP6: Management

  1. To ensure smooth project performance and full implementation of the research programme.


Our policies

The project has developed a range of policies to provide practical guidance on safeguarding, whistleblowing, intellectual property and publications, integrating each institituion's own frameworks and addressing the different contexts and digitial access.The policies are available to read below. 

Intellectual Property Policy

Publications Policy

Safeguarding in Research Policy (including Risk of Harm Protocol)

Whistleblowing Policy 


Project Registration and Transparency

Our project has been registered with the Research Registry, here.

We publish our activities with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). View details on the IATI's d-portal, here.


This work is licensed under CC BY 4.0