Given the prevalence of childhood trauma in rural Montana, this project is intended to help mitigate stressors that may contribute to poor behavioral and mental health in high school-aged children, which may be exacerbated by the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate goal was to measure physical and mental health outcomes in adolescents resulting from a remotely delivered trauma-informed yoga intervention designed to foster positive youth development. Our study builds on the successes from an initial feasibility pilot study one year prior in order to evaluate a more robust intervention comparing experimental and control group outcomes. Students at a small, rural high school in Montana volunteered to participate in a 6-week, twice-weekly trauma-informed yoga intervention in their physical education class. Validated survey measures, including the PHQ-A, GAD-7, and ACE-Q instruments, were utilized to measure mental health outcomes pre- vs. post-intervention. Salivary cortisol levels were also measured pre-, mid-, and post-intervention. Statistically significant declines in cortisol levels and improvements in sleep duration were noted when comparing experimental vs. control groups. Noteworthy declines in depression and anxiety levels were also seen when comparing the treatment to control groups. Descriptive differences between the control and experimental groups illustrate the mental health benefits of reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms in rural adolescents resulting from a remotely delivered trauma-informed yoga intervention. Our study holds the potential for a long-term public health impact in reducing adolescent rates of anxiety and depression while mitigating trauma in geographically isolated settings.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04664855.