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Supporting learners' mental health in further education and skills

With students increasingly struggling with mental illness, we look at how colleges and further education providers can raise awareness and address mental health difficulties.

Learners Mental Health

[Article abstract]

Mental health has never been higher on the agenda. In January 2017 Theresa May vowed to tackle the “stigma” of mental illness through new initiatives for schools and employers; while even the royal family is challenging the British stiff upper lip with Prince Harry and Prince William speaking publicly about their struggle with grief and depression.

Mental health is a key part of the Government’s manifesto, with an additional £15 million pledged for the creation of 'places of safety' in schools and workplaces - amounting to £23,000 per parliamentary constituency. However, despite the political and social onus on supporting mental health, many services are stretched to breaking point with 77 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) having frozen or cut their child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

At the same time, depression is forecast to become so widespread that by 2020 it will be the second-most common health complaint among Brits (second to heart disease). Nevertheless, too often national mental health guidance mentions schools, but doesn’t consider the needs of students in further education (FE) and skills. Consequently, health organisations are often unaware of how FE supports learners with mental health issues.

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