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How mental health is shaping the future of education

Written on 24th June 2020

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Young people’s mental health

Young people across the UK are facing increasing mental health challenges with limited support. One in six 16-24 year olds have symptoms of depression or an anxiety disorder, with 50 per cent of mental health problems manifesting by the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 241.

Nearly half of 17-19 year olds with a diagnosable mental health disorder have self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point, rising to over 50 per cent for young women1.

Many of the challenges faced by young people today can be amplified by external pressures such as social media, peer pressure and exam stress – coupled with the significant impact of Covid-19 over the past year.

Mental health and education

During these critical years, young people are also often undertaking some form of education, studying for A Levels, vocational qualifications, T-Levels or apprenticeships. 

New research has found that nearly 1 in 5 young people experiencing a mental health problem have dropped out of education due to stigma, with over 40 per cent of students admitting their grades had also suffered.2

These circumstances provide educational practitioners with an opportunity to deliver practical and emotional support to students who may be struggling to help improve the current outcomes and better students’ futures.

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The Greater Manchester Colleges Group commitment

GMCG has a number of initiatives which provide practical support to young people across their nine colleges.

The ‘Trauma Informed’ approach is a scheme being developed in five of our colleges which focuses on the links between behavioural issues and mental health. The Centre for Mental Health report states that exposure to trauma is relatively common among young people and without appropriate support, can have severe and long-lasting effects3.

This new approach aims to provide student support and ensures all staff have the knowledge and skills to provide the right level of care to our students.

Our colleges have also been working closely with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and Salford University to develop a supervision support programme for pastoral workers, whilst establishing a team of trainers to implement this across the education sector.  

Each college and their teams are also working hard to support students as they transition in the student journey, ensuring wellbeing services are clearly sign posted and available for all young people. 

The colleges are also supported by local charity, 42nd Street which offers online support workers, one to one counselling and focuses on helping the LGBTQ+ community and ongoing student engagement.

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Association of Colleges Mental Health & Wellbeing Charter

All nine of our Greater Manchester Colleges have signed up and committed to the Association of Colleges Mental Health & Wellbeing Charter which recognises that colleges have a responsibility to create an environment that promotes student and staff wellbeing and that proactively supports student and staff mental health.

We are dedicated to following the below guidelines:

  • Wellbeing and mental health work is led by a senior manager supported by staff 
  • Adhere to a clear wellbeing and mental health policy accompanied by a clear implementation action plan which is monitored regularly and reviewed annually 
  • Create an open and inclusive college ethos which includes respect for those with mental ill health
  • Promote equality of opportunity and challenge mental health stigma through curriculum teaching 
  • Provide appropriate mental health training for staff
  • Encourage and collect student views on mental health and wellbeing 
  • Ensure a consistent and positive approach to staff wellbeing
  • Provide targeted individual mental health support where appropriate or alternatively signpost to external support service
  • Provide relevant information to parents and carers
  • Establish effective links with local health and voluntary sector mental health groups
  • Promote the benefit that physical activity and sport has on mental wellbeing

To find out more about our approach to supporting mental health in Further Education visit our project Mental Health in Further Education.