Mental health is a hot topic for schools, colleges and other learning providers, with many colleges reporting escalating numbers of students with mental health difficulties. Young people today have a wide range of stresses to deal with and colleges want to do their best to help their students navigate their way through their education as effectively as possible.
Chelmsford College decided to tackle this issue head-on by building ‘mental wellbeing’ into its introduction programme for all learners. They approached us at Gateway Qualifications with a request for a pair of short Level 1 and Entry 3 qualification that would provide a basic grounding in looking after your own mental wellbeing. They thought that using qualifications would help ensure a consistent basic introduction to the topic for all students, as well as adding rigour to teaching, learning and assessment.
Deciding on the qualifications’ content
We talked with staff from the Student Support, Extended Learning and Learning Development and Inclusion teams at Chelmsford College, as well as undertaking our own research, to determine what learning would best help learners to look after their mental wellbeing. That included analysis of Public Health England’s Promoting Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing, The Association of College’s material on Supporting Student Mental Health and Wellbeing in Colleges, and the Green Paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision and the government’s response to the related consultation. Our research led us to focus the qualification at both levels on four broad learning outcomes:
- what is meant by mental health and mental ill health
- how to look after your own mental wellbeing
- how to support your friends and family with mental health difficulties
- support for mental ill health
The qualifications will help teachers tackle some key myths about mental health such as ‘if you have a mental illness, you can’t work’ or ‘people with mental illness are often violent’. They will also help students understand the difference between normal emotional states such as sadness or worry, and mental illness such as depression or anxiety disorder. Students will be introduced to techniques and strategies for keeping mentally healthy and to ways in which they can support their friends and family to do the same They will also learn about the types of support available for mental health difficulties and how to access them.
The assessment burden for these awards have been kept to a minimum through the use of short multiple choice tests. Questions are straightforward, including some simple scenarios in which students can show that they can apply their knowledge and understanding of mental wellbeing to situations they commonly face. You can view sample assessment material on our website.
If you would like to speak to someone about embedding mental wellbeing qualifications into your curriculum, give us a call on 01206 911 211.