Year 2 at KCC's Learning Well Project (2016//17)
What are we doing?
In year 2 (2016/17) Kent County Council is one of 19 projects randomly allocated to the intervention Group C of the DfE adult education mental health research. We are delivering through Kent Adult Education under the Learning Well identity.
We'll be recruiting nearly 300 people as research volunteers to join general community learning courses (15 hours over 6 weeks). Last year all our learners identified as having mild to moderate mental health problems. This year, part of the challenge is that course participants need to be a mixed group of learners: about half of who self-assess as having mild to moderate mental health problems and about half do not.
What's this page about?
Throughout year 2 of the research, we plan to use this page to share our praxis with colleagues who are interested in lessons we learn from the experience and how this informs and changes our thinking about this work and our subsequent future practice. Where better to start than watching Patricia's reflections at the start of year 2 in Turning Challenges into Opportunities - A WMHD 2016 Webinar in conversation with the Luton and Medway project leads. Download slides from their webinar.
Use the links below to find out what we learned from year 1 of the project or to view our current offer to research volunteers.
Meeting the challenge
Last year, our project partnership closely involved Mind and other mental health support charities. In order to achieve the requirements of Group C, engaging with a mix of people with mild to moderte mental health issues and those without any, we have had to develop a far wider partnership base.
So far, we have still been working with our local volunteering orgnisation and a local residential probation centre as well as local employers, Children's Centres and school parents' groups. As phase 2 course delivery is purely community adult learning through KAE, these partnerships are to achieve research volunteer referrals.
Achieving a 50:50 split between learners with and without mild to moderate mental health issues is a potential challenge as it's impossible to find the exact number of people prior to the couse running through IAG sessions or to 'police' at sign-up. However, consultation with KAE managers and partners leads us to believe that will will achieve this if we are mindful of which organisations we engage with. For example, Children's Centre mums groups have been found to have a significant number of members with mental health issues, especially new mums and pregnant women. In order to address this is a group where learners are in a mixed group of those experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues and those who are not, we were requested to run a Massage and Relaxation course. Some interesting findings can be read about here.
Partnership Case Studies
USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) - We engaged with members via an open day where they were free to sign up to various opportunities offered by Community Learning & Skills. These included basic English and Maths and other paid provision by KAE. Learning Well offered BSL (British Sign Language) and Spanish. BSL has proved successful with comments that it's not only been enjoyable but also interesting and has had a significant benefit to learners, increasing their confidence in communication. A deaf co-worker also volunteered to support staff and continue practice. Interestingly, learners naturally fell into an approximate 50:50 split between those experiencing wellbeing issues and those not. Further courses around the County have been planned.
We do love feedback
Log in to MHFE to post comments or questions below or use 'find someone' on the networking tab on the MHFE home page to send a direct message Patricia Dillon-Russell (PatriciaDR) - our KCC project manager for this research.
Where to next?