South Devon College prepared to care for mental health

Photography by Roy Riley
(Last Updated On: October 10, 2019)

For a long time at South Devon College, staff have and continue to be incredibly supportive whilst students maintain an element of independence to prepare them for the world of work. When it comes to mental health though, there is always a place to implement support and help people through the difficulties they may be facing.

To prepare for these occasions, over 60 staff at South Devon College have been trained by MHFA England to become mental health first aiders and the College are committed to increasing that number. The training teaches people to be aware of how to spot where someone may be struggling with their mental health, how to support them, and where to direct if more specialist support is needed. Those that have completed their training wear badges that display they are mental health first aiders so it is clear who can be turned to for support.

The in-depth training course is two days long and covers a vast range of areas. Staff that receive the training learn about supporting those with depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal intentions, psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders. MHFA provide many resources too which cover more specific areas such as autism, cyberbullying, alcohol and substance misuse, and much more.

In recognition of the importance of being ready to support anyone from staff to students with their mental health, South Devon College are proud to have signed up to the Association Of College’s (AOC) Mental Health Charter. The charter commits colleges that have signed up to ensure the following measures are in place to be ready to support with mental health needs across college.

Ensure that wellbeing and mental health work is led by a senior manager supported by a member of staff with particular responsibility for mental health
Have a wellbeing and mental health policy accompanied by a clear implementation action plan which is monitored regularly and reviewed annually
Create an open and inclusive college ethos which includes respect for those with mental ill health
Promote equality of opportunity and challenge mental health stigma through curriculum teaching and also promote wellbeing through tutorial programmes
Provide appropriate mental health training for staff
Encourage and collect student views on mental health and wellbeing by working with the Students’ Union and other student representative bodies
Ensure a consistent and positive approach to staff wellbeing
Provide targeted individual mental health support where appropriate or alternatively signpost to external support services
Provide relevant information to parents and carers
Establish effective links with local health and voluntary sector mental health groups
Promote the benefit that physical activity and sport has on mental wellbeing

With health and wellbeing of all those at South Devon College being part of their key overall People Strategy, there are many other aspects of the College that go well beyond the commitments of this charter.

The College have a large and growing number of events that are linked to student and staff health and wellbeing and also refer staff to Able Futures if they need to access free and bespoke mental wellbeing support. There is also a big focus on digital wellbeing at the moment to strike a healthy balance of technology usage in day to day life. These are few of many other initiatives the College has in place to support everyone.

South Devon College are always developing to improve the student experience but this is one of the most important developments of its time. It will benefit those that find looking after their mental health challenging with clear points of contact for support.

If you’re interested in studying at South Devon College, then come along to the next College Open Event on Saturday 12th October 2019, 10am-1pm. If you have any questions, you can email enquiries@southdevon.ac.uk or call 08000 380 123.

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