An Evidence-based Approach to Reduce
Post-Traumatic Stress and Improve Resilience
and Health Among At-risk Populations:
Research and Clinical Applications
Robert D. Roth
In low-income urban schools, traumatic stress is a reality for millions of children who grow up in an oppressive climate of poverty, violence, and fear. This stress impedes learning and undermines physical and mental health. High stress levels also damage teachers and educators, resulting in high burnout rates.
The Brain-Based Approach to Peace, known in school applications as the Quiet Time Program, gives students a practical, evidence-based approach to reduce stress and dramatically improve academic performance, wellness and the school environment. Quiet Time provides students with two 15-minute periods of Transcendental Meditation practice each day to help balance their lives and improve their readiness to learn. This schoolwide program complements existing educational strategies by improving the physiological underpinnings of learning and behavior.
Extensive published research and clinical experience in hundreds of underserved schools in violence-ridden communities have found this approach to provide an effective and cost-effective treatment modality for reducing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleep deprivation, and impulsive behavior, while simultaneously improving resilience, physical and mental health, and academic performance among at-risk youth. For example:
A $1.3 million study currently underway by the University of Chicago Crime and Education Laboratories on 1,000 students in the high-crime areas of Chicago is proving effective for improving graduation rates and reducing suspensions and expulsions among meditating students—thus reducing the costly school-to-prison pipeline. The study is soon to be expanded to 2,000 students in Chicago and 4,000 students in New York City public schools.