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Mental Health: If the government is serious about offering support, they need to stop ignoring the 2.2 million people currently in colleges.

20 May 2019

There are 2.2 million people being educated and trained in colleges, including 685,000 16 to 18-year-olds. The government’s focus on mental health will never truly be realised until they are prioritised. An Association of Colleges survey has found that: 90 per cent of college leaders have seen an increase in the number of students aged 16-18 with disclosed mental health conditions 86 per cent of college leaders have seen an increase in the number of students aged 19+ with disclosed mental health conditions That is why AoC has today launched Mental Health & Wellbeing: A Collection of College Case Studies - a snapshot of just some of the work going on in colleges day in and day out to support students and staff. It covers a wide range of successful and easy-to-follow approaches to tackling poor mental health and to promoting wellbeing. Case studies include: New City College – Hackney’s work with East London NHS Foundation Trust to support adults with psychiatric issues The service, aimed at breaking down barriers, offers emotional and practical support, including advice and guidance on college courses and help with enrolment. There is a specialist advisor on hand to support students during college and then their progress on to higher education and employment. The college holds regular advice surgeries in local psychiatric wards. Student X had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and could barely look anyone in the eye, had low self-esteem and was regularly admitted to psychiatric wards for 25 years. During a series of one-to-one meetings with the college’s mental health education and employment service, they discussed his skills and interests. With low basic skills, Student X took on a literacy and numeracy course. Backed by weekly meetings with the mental health education advisor, the student completed the course and recorded only one hospital admission that year. As a result, his confidence rocketed, medication was reduced and he was discharged from the mental health team into the care of his GP, and he has built up enough resilience to manage. Stockton College’s support for an injured veteran struggling with civilian life Staff at Stockton College include veterans supported by Help for Heroes. The veterans build confidence and expertise and gain qualifications at the same time. They also act as role models for students. X is an army veteran who enlisted at 16. He did several tours and then sustained physical and mental health injuries and was medically discharged. Transition back to civilian life was a real challenge until he heard about the Prince’s Trust initiative Team, got funding from Help for Heroes and joined the Stockton College Team programme to support young people to face their fears. He successfully completed his leadership training and is now a part-time employee, helping young people to find employment. David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Colleges are not getting the resources they need to support their students’ mental health and well-being. This is not unique to colleges, of course, with mental health services at breaking point across the NHS. “We know that partnerships between colleges and the NHS locally are vital and powerful in helping to support more students to access the support they need; we want the Government to support those partnerships and provide colleges with the resources they need to help more students. “Colleges work with more than 685,000 16 to 18-year-olds. The government needs to back those young people by investing more in their learning and the support that needs to go with it. It is imperative that colleges have the access to the support that students deserve.” Stuart Rimmer, Chair of the AoC Mental Health Policy Group and Principal and Chief Executive of East Coast College, said: “Young people must be able to access the support they are entitled to. “Most mental health problems become apparent between the ages of 14 to 18 and so the Government must ensure that any funding or resources, including the appropriate training for teaching staff, are shared equally amongst school children and post 16-year-olds studying at further education colleges." “There isn’t a quick fix. But as the awareness, understanding and rhetoric grows around mental health, we need to ensure there is action taken. Our message is simple – the right resources, training and direction in colleges will have a long-term, positive impact on so many people. Without it, we risk damaging future generations.” The PDF to the summer publication is available below. AoC Mental Health Publication.pdf AoC Mental Health Publication.pdf (PDF,2.05 MB)