GMLPF secures funding to extend mental health support programme for learning providers

GMLPF is pleased to announce it has been successful in its bid for Lottery funding via the Awards For All (A4A) programme to extend its mental health project tailored to support providers of apprenticeships.

Research among GMLPF members conducted late last year revealed 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 this year.

 

Mental health a barrier to participation

The AT Skills delivered course ran over 2 days and awarded 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.  The delegates were well drilled in mental health first aid and how to signpost individuals in need to sources of professional support.

The successful Lottery bid means that GMLPF are now able to carry out more detailed research into the scale, nature and impact of mental health issues on apprentices and other learners, as well as provider staff. In particular the research will look at the extent to which mental ill-health is a barrier to participation in learning programmes and its impact on achievement levels.

 
Mental Health Ambassadors

In addition, the A4A funding will allow GMLPF to make its mental health training programme available to a wider audience of learning provider staff in its membership base. Furthermore, the project will see the launch of a pilot mental health first aid course for learners that helps them improve their understanding of mental health with a view to them becoming mental health ambassadors. Finally GMLPF will develop a portfolio of online resources and useful materials for learning provider staff to access to keep up to date with the latest mental health policy and practice

Ian Lomas, CEO of GMLPF said

“We’re very grateful to the Awards For All programme for supporting this important project. It’s clear that mental health is as critical an issue in the vocational sector as it is in schools. This funding will allow us to continue our work to understand exactly how mental health impacts on the delivery of programmes like apprenticeships, and to equip our members with the professional skills and expertise to support students.”

 

gmlpf members on level 2 mental health training

GMLPF shines spotlight on apprentice mental health in Liverpool City Region

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.”

 

Pinpointing Issues

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.

 

The Future

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”.

Time To Talk Day 2018

Following on from discussions with members who attended our recent forum, we want to underline GMLPF’s commitment to collaborating with providers to address the growing issue of mental health and its impact on employment and skills in Liverpool City Region. As a start, we will be sharing what we feel are useful resources for members to consider using in the support of learners, staff and wider communities.

Tomorrow is Time To Talk Day 2018, established by Time To Change, the growing social movement changing how we all think and act about mental health. The Time To Change website provides a portfolio of downloadable resources and tips designed to end mental health discrimination.

We welcome any examples of mental health resources you use to support students or staff that could be shared with other GMLPF members. Please forward them to pavlina@gmlpf.net

In the near future, we plan to set up a working group focussing on the impact of mental health in the sector and develop an action plan. Any members interested in joining this group, please email ian@gmlpf.net

Prioritising student health & wellbeing

Students taking part in Key to Apprenticeship programmes run by GMLPF member, Mode are benefitting from new wellbeing aspects that have been added to their training courses.

Mode is piloting the initiative with students on both its Key to Apprenticeships programmes: Music and Hairdressing. The two-phase approach to improving students’ self-awareness includes firstly helping them to gain a better understanding of their own health and wellbeing, and then to help them develop increased mindfulness – a meditation technique that is increasingly popular and has shown to help young people manage stress.

Positive impact on achieving goals

Mode have always recognized the importance of promoting healthy lifestyle choices to young people. This project is laying the foundations that good physical and psychological wellbeing has a positive impact on achieving goals and ensuring success. At the end of the six-week programme, students progress to weekly mediation sessions to continue their wellbeing development.

Positive change in attitude

Debbie Tagoe, director at Mode, said: “It’s clear to me that the extra support we’re providing to our students by including these wellbeing modules is really worthwhile. When you look at statistics like Childline’s recent figures showing that they had 34,000 consultations with suicidal children last year, it’s obvious that any measures that we can take as training providers to maximise our students’ wellbeing can only be a good thing. Since the start of our pilot we have seen a positive change in attitude from our students – they are a lot more relaxed and want to participate in group activities more.”

Calmer

Speaking about the pilot, student Tia Johnson, said: “The sessions with Saeed are awesome – I loved the mediation part the best, it made me feel much calmer and also think about how I can improve my wellbeing.”

Positive message

Creator of the programme, Saeed Olayiwola from SO Health, concludes: “Training providers have a captive young audience and this programme presents an ideal opportunity for them to support young people to lead a healthy lifestyle physically and psychologically. By being the first training provider to embrace this programme, Mode has sent a positive message to their young people that they are committed to their overall health and wellbeing and are making them feel more valued, as well as helping to support the national Government vision for a healthier nation.”