The social unrest that began in Hong Kong in 2019 became a threat to public mental health, such as for depression and post-traumatic stress disorders. A supportive family environment is the most effective protective factor for mental health problems for young people who are exposed to conflict and violence. This study investigated the outcomes of a brief mindful parenting workshop on parent mental health and family functioning.
Using a randomized controlled trial design, 54 parents of adolescents and young adults were randomized into intervention group and waitlist control group. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress symptoms, negative emotions, family functioning, and family conflicts were measured at baseline (pretest), following training, and at 3-month follow-up.
We found a significant improvement in family functioning among parents in the intervention group when compared to those parents in the control group (F [1, 51] = 4.41, p = .04). When we further controlled the child-initiated physical conflict as covariate, a significant reduction of self-rated levels of depressive symptoms was found in the parents from the intervention group when compared to the parents in the control group (F [1, 49] = 5.14, p = .03).
We found preliminary evidence that a brief mindful parenting workshop can strengthen parent and family mental health at times of social unrest.