Jane Martino's inspiration was meditation and sitting still, but she’s moving quickly with an app and website that’s looking to transform schools and workplaces through mindfulness meditation.

How it all began

In 2012, Jane and business partner, James Tutton, developed Smiling Mind, a web and app-based program that supports the development of mindfulness and meditation skills. Smiling Mind aims to bring the benefits of meditation to people at a younger age. Designed with the help of psychologists and educators the program helps with both balance and productivity. “We wanted to build up all of the good things that meditation brings, including self-awareness, empathy and an ability to focus and be really productive and in the moment,” says Martino.

This is particularly critical given the sobering statistics around mental health in Australia. “One in five of us will suffer mental illness. If you are in primary school, it’s one in seven and if you are in high school, it’s one in four,” says Martino. “If we don’t catch this and start to be proactive early and teach people really healthy habits around how they can have a strong mind, we won’t be able to turn those statistics around.”

A breakthrough idea

Delivering the program through an app and website was a breakthrough idea – and central to the Smiling Mind vision. “The number one thing was accessibility…making sure it was always free to access and could reach as many people as quickly as possible. Whether they were individuals, no matter what age they were, age 7 to 77, or where they were – in remote areas within a school environment or community environment or by themselves,” says Martino.

Today, the Smiling Mind App has reached more than 1.3 million people worldwide. Furthermore with more than 13,000 education providers use its programs in their classrooms benefiting around 600,000 students. The company’s Workplace Programs are currently being used by more than 200 organisations.

The importance of partnerships

Partnering and collaborating has been important for Smiling Mind, says Martino. “We worked with Beyond Blue to create a pre and post-natal program that was specific for men and women.” Educating people about the importance of mental health is essential to the success of the Smiling Mind App. “Now, people are a lot more aware of what mediation is and the benefits that it can bring,” she comments.

We believe that mental health is a great investment – for our young people and for businesses. That’s why the NAB Foundation supported Smiling Mind with a grant which helped to update its technology platform. “If we didn’t have the grant from the NAB Foundation, we wouldn’t be able to have as many people using the program as often as we do. That’s enabled us to refresh the look and feel and bring it up to the moment,” says Martino.

Plans for the future

When it comes to the future, Martino, Smiling Minds CEO and board, definitely aren’t sitting still – they have a big vision for Smiling Mind. “We want to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian curriculum of every school,” says Martino.

Unlocking the power of meditation

See how Smiling Minds is connecting kids with meditation.

Important information

The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.

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