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Furness College supports national mental health charter

Sue Hannan, Furness College’s Director of Curriculum (Young People’s Learning) and the College’s safeguarding lead

Furness College has reaffirmed its commitment to staff and students by being one of the first to sign up to a new national mental health and wellbeing charter.

The charter has been created by the Association of Colleges in conjunction with mental health experts.

As part of the charter, the college has pledged to promote equal opportunities and challenge mental health stigma, provide appropriate mental health training for staff and provide targeted individual mental health support where appropriate.

Director of Curriculum (Young People’s Learning) Sue Hannan, who is also the college’s designated safeguarding lead, said Furness College is more than a safe place to learn.

“We are a college community with a strong network of support for our staff and students. We know that now, more than ever, people are facing challenges with their mental health and we have a team of highly-trained and dedicated professionals across our two campuses.

“Starting college can be a daunting prospect for many and we felt it was important to be one of the first to sign up to the charter to show our commitment to our students.”

She added that Ofsted recently highlighted the ‘caring culture’ of the college in its recent inspection and urged anyone thinking of joining the college in September to get in touch over summer to find out about the support network available.

“College is more than gaining qualifications and we were delighted Ofsted recognised the support we offer to students and apprentices as they prepare for their lives ahead and future careers. This reflects our people-centred ethos, which is across everything that we do.”

The college recently held workshops with former professional rugby player Luke Ambler focusing on mental wellbeing for its students and staff and also holds regular free yoga sessions and a wellbeing workout. The announcement comes on the back of the successful Trailblazer bid for education mental health support teams in the Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group area, which the college supported to enhance the work it already does.

Every year, one in 10 young people experience a mental health problem and one in five young people aged 16-24 experience a common mental illness such as anxiety or depression.

Some 75 per cent of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem experience their first symptoms before the age of 24 meaning Furness College plays a vital role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its students and staff.

Richard Caulfield, mental health lead at the Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like Furness College provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

“This includes providing support for both staff and student wellbeing at the right time, in the right place. This charter gives colleges the chance to publicly state their commitment to the mental health agenda.”

The AoC Mental Health Charter in full:

  • The mental health charter encourages colleges to commit to:
  • Ensuring that wellbeing and mental health work is led by a senior manager supported by a member of staff with particular responsibility for mental health
  • Having a wellbeing and mental health policy accompanied by a clear implementation action plan which is monitored regularly and reviewed annually.
  • Creating an open and inclusive college ethos which includes respect for those with mental ill health.
  • Promoting equality of opportunity and challenging mental health stigma through curriculum teaching and also by promoting wellbeing through tutorial programmes
  • Encouraging and collecting student views on mental health and wellbeing by working with the Students
  • Union and other student representative bodies
  • Providing appropriate mental health training for staff
  • Ensuring a consistent and positive approach to staff wellbeing
  • Providing targeted individual mental health support where appropriate or alternatively signposting to external support services
  • Providing relevant information to parents and carers
  • Establishing effective links with local health system and voluntary sector mental health providers
  • Promoting the benefit that physical activity and sport has on mental well being

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