Smiling Mind is a mobile- and web-based program that aims to promote mental health and well-being through mindfulness meditation. The program intends to assist users in dealing with pressure, stress, and the challenges of daily life. It is designed to be used by individuals from all age groups (7 y/o and up) and in a variety of daily routine settings (e.g., sport, workplace). Each audio lesson – lasting between 1 to 43 minutes – comprises a sequential step teaching how to meditate through lessons, activities and meditations (where the user is guided through calming breathing exercises and visualizations). As users moves forward, the program records their sessions progress and self-reported mood changes. The app also provides programs for educators divided by children’s age group (7-9, 10-12, 13-15,16-18) which include lesson plans, meditations and take home activities.
Smiling Mind is suitable for users of all age groups who are interested in learning the practice of mindfulness meditation. For more experienced users, however, the app offers fewer practices. One of the app’s main strengths is in the educators’ and children’s programs. The educators’ (e.g., for teachers) programs are simple to use, structured, and age-appropriate. With only a basic knowledge and understanding of mindfulness, it will only take a few minutes of their time for educators to incorporate the program into their curriculum (for students age 7 and up). The children’s program requires more time and concentration; therefore, for the younger age group (7–9), parental guidance is recommended. For adult users, the app provides a step-by-step pathway to learn and practice mindfulness meditation. The meditations and lessons are clear and easy to follow, although the narration sounds technical at times. The background sound (optional) is repetitive and does not complement the narration, which can sometimes create discomfort or even annoyance for the user. Therefore, we recommend that the background sound be switched off. Furthermore, at the time of the review, we found that some of the meditations ended abruptly.
As a supplement to treatment, Smiling Mind’s biggest advantage is in providing a free mindfulness program for children. As described, for the younger age group (7–9), parental guidance is recommended. Therefore, the program would be best used as an adjunct to ongoing treatment. It will be necessary to work with the child’s parents to guide them in the use of the app. Therapists can also recommend the program to teenagers in cases where relaxation techniques and meditation practices would benefit the patient but are not covered in person for various reasons (e.g., lack of time, lack of clinician training, or focus on other issues).