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Annexes to the DfE Community learning mental health research phase two evaluation

This document contains annexes to the official DfE Community learning mental health research phase two evaluation (2018) covering: 

  • The CLMH learner survey
    • A copy of our learner survey, details of how we administered it
    • How data from the survey was processed and analysed
    • Notes on interpreting the quantitative and qualitative data
  • Data tables
  • Information about how Ipsos MORI sampled and recruited learners involved in the follow-up interviews at 6-9 months after their courses, along with the information sheet we gave them and the discussion guide Ipsos MORI used for the interviews
  • A practically useful literature review conducted in March 2017 and updated in March 2018. DfE asked the Centre for Mental Health to produce this as a resource for FE providers to use to help them understand and make an evidence-informed case for their mental health work.

The review outlines the evidence-base on adult community learning and its impact on mental health and wellbeing. It:

  • presents findings from existing research
  • examines the quality of the evidence (giving each study a NESTA 'standards of evidence' score)
  • explores what makes ACL accessible
  • where possible, examines how ACL compares to other interventions.

Importantly, the literature review concludes: 

"The studies included in the review indicate that there is promising evidence that non- formal adult education positively impacts mental health and wellbeing. The evidence demonstrated that wellbeing improved for adults in general as well as those with identified mental health needs. There is initial evidence that mental health-focused learning (i.e. that focuses on coping skills, mental health experiences) also contributes to improved wellbeing. Of important note, is that people who are often excluded from mainstream services (e.g. BAME communities, learners with disabilities) were found to be accessing the adult community learning explored here in greater numbers. This would suggest that there is something about adult community learning which made it accessible to traditionally marginalised groups. Qualitative research provided insight into what made these projects more accessible, highlighting the informal and supportive nature of the courses. In addition, individuals felt like they were seen and treated differently, which enabled them to view themselves more positively."

The review also identifies:

"significant limitations to the evidence, which weaken confidence in the findings. Firstly, people who engage in learning courses choose to do so and may therefore already perceive them to be of benefit. The evidence does not investigate individuals who chose not to participate or did not complete the course. These studies are therefore subject to selection bias because individuals chose to take part, possibly because they anticipated potential benefits of participation. Secondly, the included studies used self-reported measures of mental health, which means that there may have been reporting bias. This could be reduced by the use of other indicators and observation sources to provide support to the findings, such as participants’ use of mental health services. Thirdly, as has been discussed throughout the review, tit has not been possible to identify any studies which employ an experimental or quasi- experimental design. The two studies that do use comparison groups are limited. The first one compares intervention participants with the general population, with no analysis of how comparable the groups are. The second has an extremely small sample size in each condition, making it difficult to generalise findings. However, despite the limitations, this review has found promising evidence of adult education positively impacting mental health and wellbeing. The CLMH research project is intended to contribute to a strengthening of the evidence in this area."

Resource Type: 
Resource Author: 
Ipsos MORI
Resource Publisher: 
HM Government Department for Education
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