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Mental Health/Wellbeing

Colleges care deeply about our students. Our primary purpose is to educate, to help students gain qualifications, to progress in work and further study but we know that we also need to support them to gain skills to lead happy, successful lives.

To achieve all these outcomes, we need to help all students to be healthy, to develop skills in resilience, to manage what life throws at them and we need to target specialist support to students with particular challenges.

This resource pack provides AoC members with resources, ideas and a self-assessment tool to help build on mental health and wellbeing within your college.

The downloads below provide a full copy of the resource pack, as well as individual sections.

Should you have any questions on this, please contact Liz Maudslay or Richard Caulfield.

Full resource pack

Resource pack sections


This list of resources is an initial starting point for colleges. We will continuously add to the list of materials on the Wellbeing and Mental Health section of our website. If you have a suggestion for additional materials, please send them to

Leadership and management

Ethos and environment

  • Great Yarmouth College has developed a particularly effective whole college wellbeing strategy which encompasses all students available on the ACER website. A more detailed description of how the college has created a wellbeing strategy for staff can be found on the AoC website.
  • Birkenhead Sixth Form College has developed a BePART programme which aims to help students to become more ‘positive, ambitious, resilient and thoughtful’.
  • Universities UK developed guidance in 2015 for members on the promotion of mental wellbeing across higher education institutions (HEI). It has several sections relevant to colleges and is unusual in having a section (Annexe 2), which considers the legal implications of mental health issues for education institutions. This suggests that it is helpful to review policies and procedure which may be needed to successfully support and manage students with mental health issues.


Action for Happiness has produced 10 Keys to Happier Living and also a highly endorsed Key to Happier Living Toolkit for schools which colleges might want to adapt for their own context.

Student voice

  • NUS has produced FE and Mental Health looking at the experiences of FE students in 2017.
  • Young Minds has produced a series of short accessible booklets written by and produced for young people which cover a range of topics related to mental health.
  • Charlie Waller Memorial Trust has produced a digital pack of three short films on mental health reflecting their real-life experiences of self-harm made by and for young people.
  • Public Health England has launched three new reports (a) Cyberbullying: An analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey for England, 2014 (b) Wellbeing of adolescent girls: An analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey for England, 2014 and (c) Intentional self-harm in adolescence: An analysis of data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey for England, 2014. All the reports are available by clicking on this link.

Staff development and support

  • AoC has developed a range of resources and case studies which look at how to support the mental wellbeing of all staff.
  • A resource which has been widely used and very positively received for raising awareness of mental health amongst all college staff is Mind ED. AoC has customised this resource for use in FE, available to download and use from our website (LINK TO ADD).
  • AoC Services runs training programmes on mental health first aid. In some regions colleges have been able to take part in free mental health training run by external organisations. To look at possibilities see AoC’s paper on strategic engagement.
  • Young Minds runs courses for teachers and support workers on a range of subjects, e.g. bullying, bereavement, self-harm, eating disorders etc.

Targeted support

  • The Centre for Mental Health’s recent publication Missed Opportunities 2016 dedicates a chapter on conditions specifically affecting 16-25 year olds.
  • Charlie Waller Memorial Trust has produced a very informative booklet on depression and how to deal with it.
  • Mind has a very comprehensive A-Z of mental health conditions with a brief description of each and also links to sources of support.
  • Remploy has developed a scheme which enables apprentices with any kind of mental health difficulties to access free targeted support funded by Access to Work. Details of this programme and also leaflets both for apprentices and employers are available on the Remploy website.
  • Storm: enhancing skills, saving lives, offers training specifically in the area of self-harm.
  • Attached are two short pieces on autism and mental health.

Parents and carers

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust has produced two short booklets for parents:

Young Minds runs a helpline for parents.

Minded provides free educational resources on children and young people’s mental health for adults. It has a specific section which gives advice and provides a host of useful links for families concerned about a young person’s mental health.

External partnerships

  • In 2016 the Independent Mental Health Taskforce to NHS England published Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, an independent report which sets out recommendations for the transformation of NHS mental health services.
  • AoC has produced a short paper, Mental Health in FE: strategic engagement between colleges and different parts of the health service, which gives examples of how colleges have made effective links with different parts of the health service and managed to become included in some of their initiatives and established partnership working.
  • Mind has a network of local Mind groups which include talking therapies, crisis helplines, drop-in centres, employment and training schemes, counselling and befriending. Several of these local groups have formed partnerships with FE colleges.

Auditing and monitoring

It is important to look for ways of monitoring the achievement and retention of students who have received mental health support. This includes non-accredited as well as accredited success. Hackney College uses a simple but very effective way of measuring the extent to which students with mental health difficulties have achieved personal goals in terms of feeling more confident/learning new skills/meeting new people/taking part in voluntary work/gaining employment.

Useful organisations

Action for Happiness

Action for Happiness focuses particularly on wellbeing and how to lead a happier life. It has created courses and a schools toolkit based on its Ten Keys to Happier Living.

Anna Freud Centre

The Anna Freud Centre has a long history of working to improve the lives of children and young people with mental health difficulties. It does this through providing services, training, and carrying out cutting edge research.

Centre for Mental Health

The Centre for Mental Health has produced a long list of very well researched in depth publications on various aspects of mental health. Several of these look at issues related to mental health and the criminal justice system.

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (CWMT)

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life while suffering from depression. The organisation works in a variety of ways to support the mental wellbeing of young people. They have produced several very useful free booklets on various issues connected with mental health.

Learning and Work Institute

Learning and Work Institute has developed various mental health resources including a Mental Health and Family Learning Pack – a resource pack aimed at managers and practitioners in adult learning who want to develop or improve access to family learning for those experiencing mental health difficulties.

Mental Health in Further Education (MHFE)

MHFE provides a network particularly for those interested in adult education and mental health. It provides updates on recent research projects and also case studies of innovative practice.


Mind works in a variety of ways to support adults with mental health difficulties. As well as being a campaigning organisation it also has a range of useful information and publications. In addition there is a network of local Mind groups which have often worked in partnership with FE colleges.


MindEd provides free educational resources on children and young people’s mental health for adults. It has a specific section which offers advice and provides a host of useful links for families concerned about a young person’s mental health. It also provides on line training at different levels for professionals. (NB: listed above are links to MindEd training which has been specifically adapted for those working in FE).

Public Health England

Public Health England have produced a compilation of all their published tools and resources that support the promotion of children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing


Samaritans offer a helpline and a safe place for people to talk. Although best known as a suicide prevention organisation the Samaritans website clearly states that people do not have to be suicidal to make use of their helpline.

The Curly Hair Project

The Curly Hair Project (CHP). CHP aims at supporting people with ASD, their families, and those who work with them. CHP offers workshops, training and information for individuals (with or without a diagnosis), families, schools, professionals and employers.

The Mix

The Mix offers a support service for young people, from mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs

Young Minds

Young Minds reflects the voice of young peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. It offers a range of publications by and for young people on various aspects of mental health and runs training courses for teachers and support staff. It also has a helpline for parents.