Created by the Association of Colleges in conjunction with mental health experts, the charter asks colleges to commit to a number of key actions. These include providing appropriate mental health training for staff and providing targeted, individual mental health support where appropriate.
It also requires colleges to commit to challenging mental health stigma through curriculum and promote wellbeing for students through tutorial programmes.
Liz Bromley, Chief Executive of NCG commented: “Here at NCG, our mission is to enable social mobility and economic prosperity for all of our students through exceptional education. Ensuring that our learners receive the right support is an extremely important part of their experience with us, especially as we enter another period of remote study.
“That is why we wholeheartedly commit to this important Charter and we look forward to working closely with AoC to raise the standards of wellbeing and mental health provision for students and colleagues across the FE sector.”
Signing the charter is the latest action that NCG has taken to support its community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
All seven NCG colleges have their own dedicated student support teams in place providing academic and personal support to students. Since colleges were first asked to close their campuses and move to remote teaching and learning in March 2020, NCG has ensured it has continued to provide robust mental health and wellbeing support to both its students and staff.
An NCG cross-college working group ‘Care and Connect’ was set up during the initial lockdown period, working to share best practice and find new and innovative solutions to supporting students remotely.
The college group also signed up to two partnerships in 2020 to ensure students across all of its colleges receive extensive mental health and wellbeing support, becoming the first further education provider to form a partnership with the Care Leaver Covenant.
In addition, it also launched a partnership with Fika, a mental health app designed to help students stay motivated, focused and connected while studying remotely. Tutors and teachers across NCG have been using the app to open up discussions on mental health in classes and individual discussions, while daily livestreams and activities tackle topics such as connection, stress and self-care to help students overcome the mental health impact of Covid-19 and remote study.
Colleges across England teach and train 2.2 million people each year – including 685,000 young people. Every year, 1 in 10 young people experience a mental health problem and 1 in 5 young people aged 16-24 experience a common mental illness such as anxiety or depression at any one time. Add to these facts, 75% of adults with a diagnosable mental health problem experience their first symptoms before the age of 24 meaning that NCG plays a vital role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its thousands of students and staff.
Richard Caulfield, Mental Health lead at the Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like those within NCG 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.”