It’s clear that the mental health of young people in the UK is causing increasing concern. Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show evidence of ill health whilst 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Consequently we are seeing more schools prioritising student wellbeing. Indeed this is already an area of focus for Ofsted.
Mental health impacts on training delivery
However, there is little coordinated support from Government to support young people who leave school at 16 to enter apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes. And arguably the stress these individuals face is higher as they get to grips with the transition from school to the workplce. Evidence suggests many learning providers feel swamped by the increasing incidences of mental ill health in their students. GMLPF members have told us this is having a direct impact on the delivery of their programmes
Mental Health First Aid
Research among GMLPF members reveals that at any time up to 30% of their apprentices and learners are suffering with their mental health. This can eat up an average of 40 staff hours each month. On average each provider faces more than eighty mental health incidents requiring intervention each year.
Our research showed that many learning providers wanted some sort of formal training in mental health awareness. So as a first step GMLPF linked with AT Skills and Active IQ to launch a Mental Health Awareness and First Aid training course which ran in January and February.
Level 2 Award
The AT Skills delivered course runs over 2 days and awards a Level 2 qualification to successful participants. Asset Training, North West Training Council, Lite Ltd, St Helens Chamber and Halton Council all sent staff on the course. Director of AT Skills Alan Reddin outlines what the objectives of the programme are:
“We have specifically designed the course to help training providers. They learn to boost awareness and understanding of mental health. We equip staff to identify signs and symptoms, risk factors and treatments for the most common mental health problems. Ending discrimination can only happen through knowledge.”
The delegates were also well drilled in mental health first aid and how to signpost individuals in need to sources of professional support. Harriet adds:
“Through discussion and group activities, we tailor the course for providers of apprenticeships and other training. They leave with a good grasp of the particular mental health issues experienced by apprentices and adult learners. We also spent time considering the mental health challenges encountered by learner-facing staff.”
During two days at GMLPF offices in Liverpool, the participants pinpointed real life scenarios. A range of hot topics were debated. The staff particularly wanted to know about striking the right balance between making adjustments for learners’ mental health and encouraging them to challenge them by building resilience.
Pavlina Kiakides of GMLPF who completed the course explains some of the issues tackled during the two days’ training:
“There were lots of opportunities to explore different providers’ practices regarding the development of resilience in learners. So for example, when a learner self declares a phobia of public transport what strategy should be adopted? Should the provider accept they can’t travel and find them a placement/apprenticeship close to home? Or focus on helping the student overcome the phobia? We also realised that the roles of different parties involved in delivery of training need clarifying. The responsibilities of employer and provider in supporting mental good health in apprentices must be agreed at the start to stop people falling through the net.”
Raising Awareness Across The Region
An emerging theme was that provider staff often need support; it is not just an issue for students.
The course was a culmination of a project by GMLPF that set out to raise awareness of the issues. The groundwork for getting to this point was the extensive research conducted among our members. The introduction of the course is timely as mental health of apprentices and other young people has moved up the agenda of skills challenges facing the Liverpool City Region.
Research among members reveals students are affected by issues such as anxiety, stress and lack of self- belief. And 83% GMLPF members responded that mental health issues are on the increase.
And since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, it seems that employers may be inadvertently adding to apprentices’ stress levels. Because employers hold the funding themselves, they are taking a keener interest in seeing good levels of achievement. Further pressures come from all kinds of sources; students cite social media and lack of support at home.
Only ten places are available on each course. We will be announcing future dates soon and in the meantime the following is just some of the positive feedback we have had so far.
“The course covered a wide & varied subject matters discussed which will be useful for personal and professional application”
“Great awareness of mental health first aid, signs and symptoms and discussions around apprenticeships”
“The whole programme was excellent as it provided a robust range of information, skills and knowledge which I am able to put into practice and share with colleagues and learners”.
“The programme was perfect, professional, highly informative and educational. An excellent programme which enabled me develop personally and professionally”.