This year marks the end of the Mentally Healthy College Community project and we sat down with the college’s Mentally Healthy College Coordinator Keir Mckechnie to talk about next steps.
The project, launched in 2018, aimed to improve the college’s relationship with mental health and provide support and advice for staff and students in a way that be open, approachable and beneficial based on what the students themselves said they need.
Their first step was to increase student awareness of positive mental well being in order to increase their confidence in seeking help and knowing where to turn to. This was done through training members of staff to increase their knowledge and confidence in supporting mental health and how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health distress.
The ultimate goal was to reduce stigma and discrimination by promoting culture change and creating a safe and welcoming environment for students at the college and across Scotland should it succeed.
To date, the project has trained around 280 staff in better mental health awareness and research has shown there has been a 700% increase in students feeling comfortable enough to declare mental health concerns to Learning Inclusion Teams at enrollment between 2015-2018.
In the projects first year of implementation, there was an 8% increase in students struggling from poor mental health completing their studies.
The next step now that the project has ended is to introduce a life skills course into the curriculum that students will be accredited for, allowing them to gain the skills necessary to handle their own mental health distress and better support their peers while at college and further in life.