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					Top Ten Ways to Promote Positive Mental Health in Adult Education
These are some ideas for practical ways in which adult learning providers can promote positive mental health. 1. Think about the whole organization and how the culture and environment of your organization contributes to mental well-being.  Set up a Well-being Committee within your organization to bring about change. Ensure diverse representation of your Committee – learners, senior managers, tutors etc. Link the work of the Committee to Quality Assurance processes.  Reward initiatives that promote well-being (this could be organized through a Well-being Committee). Establish a monthly competition for teams and departments who do something simple and easy to promote positive well-being eg security staff who make a commitment to smile and greet everybody who enters the building or canteen staff who offer more healthy choices on the menu.  Organize a ‘mental health amnesty’ to allow any staff or learners to come forward and disclose any mental distress without fear of reprisal. 2. Involve and consult learners (including those who use mental health services).  Ask learners how they think your organization can promote positive health and well-being. Involve them in developing their ideas and in monitoring the effectiveness of any new initiative.  Set up a forum for learners with mental health difficulties so that you can consult and involve them in developing provision that meets their needs. 3. Review your policies and procedures. How effective are they in promoting well-being, or do they contribute to stress and anxiety.  Develop policies and procedures that deal with discriminating or abusive behavior eg bullying. Disseminate and ensure that all staff are aware of procedures and know how to deal with incidences.  Are all processes and procedures clear, transparent and speedy? Are learners promptly informed of costs, or on the outcome of claims for access funds? Is there a long waiting time for counseling services? 4. Develop an audit procedure for ensuring well-being, like a Health and Safety Audit.  Involve learners with disabilities in access audits for physical access and psychological access.  Link up with Trade Union Healthy and Safety Reps. Use positive images and promotional materials. Set up a ‘Health and well-being’ notice board where you can put up posters, information. Collect stories and examples of successful people who have mental health needs. Use resources produced by mental health promotion agencies (eg Mentality 1) or make contact with your local mental health promotion unit to see what resources they can offer you.  Are there learners or staff with mental health difficulties who are prepared to talk about their experiences or act as a role model? 6. Training and awareness raising for learners and all staff.  Offering mental health awareness sessions for all learners and staff.  Training for tutors on positive teaching and learning and supporting learning for students with mental health needs.  Training for staff whose role is to specifically support learners with mental health difficulties eg mentoring/supervision.  Establish a support group for tutors to discuss practice and implications for their work. 5.   




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Use innovative, participatory and fun ways to get positive mental health messages across eg drama, drumming workshops, laughter workshops, stress-busting. Ensure that all training is based on non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing values. We all have mental health so avoid a ‘them and us’ approach.

7. Use curriculum teams and subjects to raise mental health awareness.  How is mental health covered in health and social care subjects? Are sport and leisure students aware of the link between physical health and mental health? Is mental health awareness part of any teacher training courses? Are media or journalism students mental health aware?  Develop a ‘Fighting Anti-Stigma’ course for service users which might cover public speaking, I.T., dealing with the media etc. 8. Ensure that information relating to mental health is easily accessible.  Develop a mental health resource pack for each team with details of local support organizations as well as information on mental health conditions.  Develop a mental health resource pack for learners to be placed in learning centres.  Ensure that information on support is easily accessible eg waiting areas, washrooms, induction packs. 9. Celebrate  Use every opportunity to tell as many people as possible, especially Senior Managers, what your service or learners have achieved.  Hold ‘Awards Evenings’ and ceremonies to recognize achievement.  Use dates like World Mental Health Day to celebrate positive mental health, and the talents and achievements of learners.  Use arts, music and food to make events participatory, colourful, fun and nurturing. 10. Be a SMART worker.  Work SMART2, do what has to be done, share tasks, and don’t overburden yourself. Be aware and maintain your boundaries.  Set a positive example of healthy working.  Build pleasure and fun into work – a lunch date with friends, time to go to the gym, a pampering relaxation session, social events outside of work etc.

Thank you to the following people from the NIACE/NIMHE London Regional Network who contributed to this briefing sheet: Carol Williams - SLAM, Cherry Stewart - Peterborough College, Emma Bowman - Westminster AES, Gill Davies - City Lit, Glasford Hisfan - Community Education Lewisham, Helen MacKeith - Lambeth College, Hilary Russell SLAM, Jane Myers- Community Education Lewisham, Junner Powell - Greenwich Community College, Kathryn James - NIACE, Lynne Miller - Central NW London Mental Health Trust, Paul Laffan - Morley College, Sara Stanton - College of North East London, Scott Dawson - Lewisham College, Valerie Hancock – LSC, Wendy Alder - Orpington College. For further information about the work of the NIACE/NIMHE London Regional Network please contact:
Kathryn James NIACE 21 De Montfort Street Leicester LE1 7GE Tel: 0116 2044281


Brendan McLoughlin London Development Centre for Mental Health 11-13 Cavendish Square London W1G 0AN Tel: 020 73072442

SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.


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