Why Compassion Matters?

Compassion Matters was launched by the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion to address several urgent issues and challenges by:

  • Placing compassion at the heart of education by enabling children and teachers to explore compassionate thinking and actions.
  • Developing high-quality learning materials that are universally available to all.
  • Enabling children to develop social-emotional learning skills by engaging with ethics and values.
  • Contributing to the improvements of children’s mental health teaching them skills which will provide a foundation for long term well-being.
  • Supporting children to develop tangible and transferable academic skills that enhance their learning in and out of the classroom.

Mental Well-being

Children in the UK are reported to have unusually low well-being and mental health, described by UNICEF as ‘unhappy materialists’ due to an overemphasis on material goods as a source of well-being.  Children and young people in the UK are under unprecedented pressure to achieve good academic results while coping with considerable social and emotional demands. There is now tangible, credible research on the scale of the problems faced by young people:

  • In written evidence to the UK parliamentary Health Select Committee, Public Health England stated that 30% of English adolescents report sub-clinical mental health.
  • 1 in 10 children have a mental health disorder – roughly three children in every classroom.
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24.

Compassion Matters contributes to the need for supporting children’s mental health by delivering resources that contribute to an essential part of their future personal development. By developing a greater knowledge of compassion and related values (such as happiness, courage and wisdom) children will develop proactive skills for managing challenges later though out their lives.


Ethics and Social-Emotional Learning

During the project, pilot DLCC staff and fellows also researched the impact of teaching ethics and values on children’s mental health, emotional well-being and academical skills. There is a strong link between the teaching of ethics and children developing better social-emotional learning skills including:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision making

Recent findings from the CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) shows that social-emotional learning (SEL) projects yielded significant positive effects on targeted social-emotional competencies and attitudes about self, others and school. They also enhanced students’ behavioural adjustment in the form of increased pro-social behaviours, reduced conduct and internalising of problems.

Compassion Matters is well placed to make a significant contribution to children of social-emotional learning having based its design and content on the models and research mentioned above. 


Academic Skills

On average social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions, including the teaching of ethics and values, have an identifiable and valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school. In the UK, high-profile research has been undertaken by the Education Endowment Foundation on behalf of the Department for Education since 2011. On average, SEL interventions have an identifiable and valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school. They also have an overall average effect of four months’ additional progress on attainment. In 2017, the collaborative association for social-emotional learning (CASEL) carried out a meta-analysis shows evidence of SEL’s long-lasting impact. A 2011 study found an 11% in academic skills .  


A project from the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion

33 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LD