Greater Manchester mental health in further education colleges

The mental health in further education project continues to make a significant impact across the further education sector, extending further into specialist colleges and independent training providers in order to reach more apprentices and their employers. There are 21 colleges in Greater Manchester (nine general further education colleges and 12 sixth form colleges) and approximately 90% of 16 to 18 year olds in Greater Manchester are in colleges. During an academic year approximately 51,000 out of 56,000 16 to 18 year olds will study at these further education and sixth-form colleges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact both on the needs of our students. In the recently published Association of Colleges Mental Health in Colleges Report (January 2021), colleges across England reported:

  • 90% of colleges seeing an increase in students diagnosed with mental health conditions.
  • 85% of colleges seeing a significant number of students with undiagnosed

Our programme includes:

  • Apprenticeships: Developing good practice guidance for supporting young people in the workplace especially for those with mental health issues
  • Consultancy: Carrying out an in-depth analysis of colleges’ position on mental health and wellbeing for both staff and students.
  • High risk groups: Joint working to develop good practice guides, events and e-resources for colleges with community and specialist-based organisations
  • Mental health first aid: Providing train the trainer for seven staff across the system with each person then agreeing to run two external sessions per year for Greater Manchester college staff and the project’s specialist providers
  • Social prescribing: Trialling new approaches to youth social prescribing that brings the NHS, VCSE and colleges together
  • Student voice: Engaging with young people to find out what they want from their college, supporting the development of online access platforms across Greater Manchester
  • Supervision: 45 staff from six colleges engaged on supervision training programmes in 2019/20, leading to developing a network of supervision trainers to deliver short training programmes across Greater Manchester to schools and colleges in 2021
  • Supporting transition and student retention: Building on the learning from the first two years of work supporting transition activities at key points in a student’s journey
  • Trauma informed: Bolton College and Hopwood Hall College individually undertook to become a trauma informed college by 2021. They’re currently mentoring two mainstream and one SEND college to support them on their journey to becoming trauma informed