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Middlesbrough CLMH Research Project

 The DfE Community Learning | Mental Health Research site (2015/18)

Middlesbrough Community Learning logo

The Be Part of it Logo


Why did Middlesbrough get involved?

Levels of mental health need in Middlesbrough were very high. The mental illness needs index (MINI) for Middlesbrough showed that there were significantly higher needs than the national average; 11 out of 23 wards in the highest 20% of need, and no wards in the lowest 20% of need. Middlesbrough had significantly more adults with depression than England (14.3% and 11.7%, respectively) (NEPHO, 2013). Middlesbrough had higher admissions for mental health than the England average; having the highest in-year bed days per 1000 population and the highest rate of emergency hospital admissions for self-harm.

Middlesbrough had the highest number (and costs) of mental health prescriptions in the North East region and very high levels when comparing across England (Local NHS data).

Phase 1 

In Phase 1 we worked very closely with our local Mind service who delivered a wide variety of courses to learners who would not have naturally walked through our doors. In the first year we engaged over 170 learners in a wide variety of courses, Managing stress, Dealing with Anxiety, confidence building, 5 ways to wellbeing and many more, totalling over 60 courses.  We used partners for our delivery

Lessons learned in Phase 1

Staff training was a must for all staff involved in the project. All staff, including administration staff, received training in mental health awareness.

We found that we needed to allocate additional staff within classes, even when learner numbers were low, to provide support with paperwork.

Phase 2 

With the changes that came into effect in Phase 2 our delivery focus had changed. We worked in partnership with our local leisure provider, Nunthorpe learning and leisure to engage both learners who had mild to moderate mental health difficulties and those who did not have any mental health difficulties. We decided that our marketing would be exactly the same as what we would do to promote leisure learning in the past. The only difference was that it was very specific about the research project. At first we thought this would not work and that we may need to focus our marketing  to ensure we engage people with mental health difficulties and those who don’t.   We decided that we would leaflet drop all local areas within Middlesbrough, postal drop to peoples doorsteps........ Well this was a fabulous idea. We were inundated with people really wanting to take part.  Our phones were ringing off the hook.  We filled our first terms courses very quickly and already had waiting lists for the next.   The project was very successful in phase 2 engaged 322 learners and we offered 118 courses over the year.  These were traditional leisure courses  such as tap dancing, growing your own vegetables, playing ukulele and many more. 

A man playing a Ukulele

The successes of the project were down to the commitment and enthusiasm of our team which quickly picked up the importance of the research.  One of the main things which we felt made the project a success was the continuity of the team. All the staff were there from the beginning; we went through all of the changes together and grew together as a great team.  Feedback from our learners has been fantastic. Many of the learners accessing the project have now moved into mainstream leisure provision and have continued learning and are still out there enjoying themselves.  Comments from some learners were amazing, “I wouldn’t have come out of the house if it wasn’t for you”, “I love the course, I have made so many friends and I don’t feel lonely anymore."

For information on the courses offered, please link to our leaflets.

November 2016 guide

January 2017 guide  

Future Plans 

We have already started working with some groups regarding mental health and creating awareness, especially within the BME communities. We will continue to support Middlesbrough to help improve their well being and mental health.  The research project gave us so much to think about and has had an impact in our own provision. We are now using the discovering potential model across all aspects of our service, this helps provide that holistic approach to supporting learners through their journey and recognise their potential.