NOCN Group Award for Mental Health and Wellbeing


This award will celebrate the important work colleges are doing to support the mental health and wellbeing of their learners and staff. The rise in ill health amongst learners and the greater public is of great concern and is attracting heightened attention nationally. 

Proposals will be expected to take into account the AoC Charter (2019) . Applications from colleges which show how they have successfully supported people in their local communities, existing learners or teaching and support staff will be welcome. Of importance will be the sustainability of such innovation, and some recognition by those outside the college that this work has longer term benefit and is sustained over time.

When completing the Stage 1 application (max 1,000 words) please take note that the assessors will be scoring equally for innovation, impact and sustainability. Applicants are advised that when constructing their submission, they consider carefully where best to place evidence to ensure the full range of the Award criteria are covered.

Colleges that exceed the AoC Beacon Standard will be invited to submit a full project brief (building on the content in the first stage application), that will provide comprehensive additional evidence such as: innovative ways of supporting learners at risk of leaving courses; effective and comprehensive staff wellbeing programmes; dynamic approaches to the education of staff and students about mental health and wellbeing.

Sponsor’s Criteria

Colleges wishing to apply for this award should consider some or all of the following:

  • A coherent whole college mental health strategy that impacts on improving teaching and learning and effective support. Support might include effective referral pathways and good strategic relationships with, for example, the mental health service providers for adults or adolescents, and clinical commissioning groups. Such a strategy will involve strong and effective leadership and management and governance support;
  • Highly effective continuing professional development on mental health for staff and/or learners, and resources to support learners with mental health issues - the impact being evident through sound strategies for quality improvement, the number of learners being identified, the provision of highly effective on-course support, increased learner success and positive progression;
  • A strategy which supports the mental health and well-being of college staff resulting in a more resilient workforce reporting fewer absences due to ill health and improved morale;
  • An environment where equality and diversity is promoted, and making healthy choices is encouraged, e.g. a range of affordable, healthy options available in the dining areas; involvement in sport; cycle to college scheme etc., resulting in improved attendance, concentration and retention;
  • A positive and supportive environment where groups of learners or individuals can benefit  through discussion and information about mental health matters, drug and alcohol awareness, internet and social media safety, and sexual and social relationships - resulting in them feeling secure and able to learn;
  • Impact of the provision on the local and college community, which is applicable to the wider sector and is sustainable over time. 

To return to the main Beacon Award Page