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Welcome to MHFE

Positive Minds Logo

Three images of learners in different learning situations

Welcome to 'Positive Mind Learn for Wellbeing' the dedicated web page for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council ’s Community Learning Mental Health Pilot Project, where we will share our experience and lessons learned as our pilot project develops. 

Please login and leave a comment/question below or send a direct message to Chris Truckle, who leads this project, for more information.

To see positive Mind Learn for Wellbeing (and all of the other pilot projects') offers, visit: http://mhfe.org.uk/content/CLMHP-local-offer-info 


The Positive Minds Learn for Wellbeing CLMH Pilot is operating within the Blackburn with Darwen Unitary Authority area.  The area has a population of 147000. The Borough experiences high levels of material deprivation, being the 17th most deprived Borough based on the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation, with eight small neighbourhoods amongst the most deprived 1% nationally.  In terms of Mental Health the borough has worse than average statistics for reported mental health conditions according to the latest data from Public Health England.

Progress so far

The Positive Minds project has been developed using the Five Ways to Wellbeing evidence based actions ( http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/entry/five-ways-to-well-being ) with tutors receiving commissioned workforce development from Lancashire Mind introducing them to the 5 principles and exploring effective ways to embed into adult learning sessions.  We developed close links with both local IAPT providers, including training on administering tools, co-development of courses, and some delivery, particularly in areas where our tutors initially lacked expertise. 

We also developed joint work with local signposting organisations, Lancashire MIND, the local Jobcentre, third sector providers, Community Restart teams, Transforming Lives and troubled family teams.  As the project has evolved, we have disseminated information to GP surgeries, local libraries, cafés, and shops.

Over time we have seen an increasing number of self-referrals from members of the public seeing leaflets and also those encouraged to contact us by their own GP or health professional.  Our course offer has been diverse including courses aimed at helping people to learn more about managing their condition and recovery as well as sessions in arts, crafts and healthy eating to engage learners who are isolated or want some time out.  Many learners engage initially on the arts and crafts courses before progressing onto more direct mental health related delivery.

The pilot project has also recently featured in the Local Council Newsletter here.

To date, we have engaged around 360 individual learners from a broad geographic range across the Borough.  Learners attending courses have been positive and passionate about the project and several learners have supported us to co-develop new courses, volunteer and support new learners in sessions and spread the word of the pilot to both professionals and members of the public both informally through word of mouth and through attending promotional events including coffee mornings and awareness days.  

Lessons learned

The pilot has been a learning curve for all involved (as it should be!). Some of the key findings to date have included:

  • Tutors need support, training and time to feel comfortable and confident when using wellbeing assessments.  Most learners are less phased by the assessment than the tutor and support, however, learners do find paperwork a challenge when coming on a relaxing course.
  • An additional tutor, learning support (group or individual) and/or volunteers really help during the sessions, allowing capacity for any issues or concerns to be dealt with without disrupting the session. 
  • Learners value the "time out" aspect of the course highly.  For many learners the sessions give them a chance for perspective and "to escape". 
  • Tutors and learners benefit from a pre-course "chat".  We have tried numerous ways of achieving this with a telephone call being the most effective to date.
  • Teas, coffees and regular breaks are really important.  The social aspect of the course is vital and many peer conversations arise during break which are re-visited later in the session.
  • Learners like to arrive early, have time to settle in, talk to the tutor.  Tutors let learners know the room will be available before start time. 
  • Paperwork needs to be spread out through the session(s).  We tend to leave ILPs to the end of week one (or even week 2) and have found learners much clearer on what they want to achieve once they have had some time to settle and find out about the course.
  • Some learners like distraction activities such as adult colouring books or stress toys whilst waiting for a session to start or during breaks.
  • Tutors have found disclosure of their own experience of mental health where it is natural and appropriate as well as emphasising their own learning during sessions as helpful to reassure and support learners. 
  • Attendance can be erratic, tutors have found that a text or phone call to learners who have missed sessions helps to support them back to class.  As courses have progressed learners show increased empathy and support for others in class.
  • Setting up social media pages such as on Facebook provide learners with a good way to stay in touch with the project and comment positively on each others work
  • Learners get the learning "bug". This has created a challenge to try and accommodate the desire of these learners to do further courses.
  • With support learners are keen to establish their own peer-led groups around topics, one group has been particularly successful in setting up their own Digital Photography group, Happy Snappers.

 Case Studies

Case Study A

Case Study B

Case Study C

Case Study D

 What next?

Our aims are: 

  • To continue to develop our offer and broaden our reach
  • Explore how our progress and learning to date can be used more widely across our service in our approach to mental health
  • Develop more options and provision for learners after courses (volunteering/mentoring)

It would be great to hear from others working on Pilots or not what their own experiences to date have been.  


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