A network for anyone with an interest in
adult education and mental health

Text Size: A+ Reset A-


Invitation to be named as a possible consortia partner in forthcoming BIS ITT

The Autumn Statement announced £20 million over two years (£5m 2015-16 and £15m 2016-17) to pilot adult education courses to help adults recover from mild to moderate mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. In January 2015 directly-funded Community Learning providers (mostly Local Authority adult education services and FE colleges) were invited to apply to the Skills Funding Agency (Agency) for funding for the first year.

BIS has not set a top-down ‘blueprint’ for the content of local mental health courses. Courses may:

  • Focus directly on a mental health problem, for example through a ‘Manage your Stress’ course
  • Use adult learning activities, such as art, music, craft, dance etc. to enable people to share, develop and practise strategies for mental health recovery
  • Directly complement interventions such as IAPT , NHS-funded Recovery College courses or other activities commissioned by local mental health services, drawing on the existing evidence base where available and relevant
  • Develop innovative community learning content and delivery approaches to support and improve mental health.

The pilot learning offer

Must include:

  • Pre-course discussion and on-going individual support for each course participant, to help them select their course, discuss progress and plan for return to employment, and /or progression to training, employment or fulfilling family and community life
  • Short, part-time courses to help eligible learners develop the tools, strategies and resilience to recover from mental health problems, reduce their use of medical services, re-engage with families and communities, progress to further learning/training or progress to/return to work
  • Informal ‘top-up’ mental health workshops, as required, for people who have progressed from courses but feel the need for subsequent support at stressful times

One hundred and forty-one applications were received and are now being scored by the Agency. Funded projects are expected to commence in April 2015. 

External Evaluation

Evaluation will be undertaken by a BIS-appointed external evaluator with understanding of educational approaches to recovery from mental health problems and credibility in both the adult education and mental health sectors. 11. The evaluation will compare the effectiveness of different approaches to workforce training, outreach, referral and delivery of mental health provision. Providers will work with external evaluators to collect data and evidence about the impact of using educational approaches to help people recover from mental health problems.

Next steps include issuing the ITT to research/evaluation organisations on the BIS framework for the external evaluation of the first year. To ensure that we get the necessary mix of knowledge and skills for the complexity of this project (including organisations/individuals with expertise/an interest in in mental health and/or wellbeing) we are encouraging organisations on the framework to consider a consortia approach.

If your organisation would like to be listed in the ITT as a ‘warm contact' that has expressed interest in being a possible consortia partner please email Janine.Coleman@bis.gsi.gov.uk on Monday 23 February 2015.

The only information that can be accepted/included in the ITT about possible consortia partners is as follows:

  • Name
  • Role/Job Title (if applicable)
  • Organisation
  • Department (if applicable)
  • Address
  • Postcode
  • Email address/es
  • Telephone number/s
  • Website

I hope that this is of interest.



Community Learning / Mental Health Pilot