Mental Health in Further Education (MHFEdefinition) is an e-network of professionals, practitioners and people with personal experience of mental health difficulties who have a common interest in improving:
- Mental healthdefinition and wellbeing in Further Education; and
- The opportunities and support available in learning and skills to people with experience of mental health difficulties.
It was launched on 1st February 2011. Membership is free and open to anyone who has an interest in mental health and adult learning.
Why create the MHFE e-network?
When the former Learning and Skills Council's National Mental Health Strategy (The Way Forward, 2009) and the LSC/NIACEdefinition/ISCRIdefinition Mental Health Partnership Programme ceased, in March 2010, there were no arrangements for maintaining this area of work but demand for and much of the apparatus and membership of the partnership's regional mental health networks remained in place.
The Skills Funding Agency and NIACE recognised that wider government policy imperatives in relation to social justice, equalities and welfare to work to improve health, social and economic outcomes for people with mental health difficulties as well as:
- The current economic and employment situation
- Proposed government policy changes in the NHSdefinition, employment programmes, welfare benefits and post-16 education
- The Equalities Act (2010) coming into force
mean that, in many respects, the FE sector may need more not less opportunities to access information about policy developments and evidence of what works in practice, including continued opportunities to network and learn from each other and with local partners across different sectors.
The result is the MHFE e-network - a partnership between the Skills Funding Agency and NIACE - that demonstrates the continuing commitment of the further education learning and skills sector's to social inclusion for people with experience of mental health difficulties. It is designed to build on the legacy of the former NIACE/LSC/ISCRI partnership programme and contribute to the new cross-government mental health strategy, No health without mental health (DH, 2011).
The image on the home page, that we use to organise content and as a navigational tool, illustrates our conceptual framework. It reflects the different levels where joined-up action is required to support positive outcomes in learning for people with a mental health condition and above all it is designed to show their inter-relatedness. Each section explores a key determinant in achieving success in learning for people with mental health difficulties. None exists in isolation. If one element is focused upon it is important to consider how it fits with the other elements. and what action is needed in one or more of these as well or instead.
In creating this image we consciously drew on the 'onion skin' diagram often used in public health to show the determinants or layers of influence on people's health and on the World Health Organisation Ottowa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) which described different levels of action that were agreed as necessary to achieve Health for All by the year 2000 and beyond.
What's to see on MHFE?
All of the the content on MHFE can be accessed via the home page. Different types of content are organised using the 7 topics in the clickable diagram described above and 4 interactive sections:
- News - regular news updates, delivered as email digests to e-network members
- Networking - for e-network members only discussion forums, a searchable database of e-network members and virtual sepcial interest groups
- Library - a searchable virtual library containing literally hundreds of resources all tagged against the 7 topic areas in the clickable diagram
- Continuous Professional Development (CPDdefinition) opportunities - yours, ours and ones we develop together.
Who is involved in MHFE?
MHFE is supported by a national advisory group, which provides a governorship role for the development and direction of the MHFE e-community partnership. Members, in addition to NIACE and the Skills Funding Agency, include:
- Learner/mental health service user representation
- The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA)
- The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS)
- The Mental Health in Higher Education programme (MHHE)
- The Department for Work and Pensions Health Work and Wellbeing initiative (HWWB)
- The National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU)
- The Centre for Mental Health
What is MHFE aiming to achieve?
This MHFE static website acts as a hub for the e-community and is designed to:
- Support access to information and resources on learning and skills and mental health for the FE and other sectors
- Support and develop an e-community of practice, which maintains and builds on the existing regional mental health networks, engaging a broad audience from across the FE and other sectors;
- Include a range of e-opportunities for practitioners to network, discuss and share experiences, resources, good practice and lessons learned in order to raise awareness of the needs of learners with mental health difficulties, deepen practitioners knowledge and support quality improvement in their provision;
- Provide a strong focus on equality, diversity and human rights in mental health and learning and skills;
- Support peer learning and local partnership working to improve outcomes in learning and skills for adults with mental health difficulties.
- Maximise opportunities to add value to the investment made in this project by widening the project’s audiences and maximising engagement and securing an income stream for the project through appropriate and relevant advertising and sponsorship.
What will success look like?
Success for this project is defined by and dependent upon the active participation of people who are interested in:
- Improving access to and success in the full diversity of learning and skills opportunities offered by the FE sector for people who have experience of learning and mental health
- Improving the quality of learning and skills provision for people with mental health difficulties
- Promoting the mental health and wellbeing of all learners in FE
- Promoting the mental health and wellbeing of the FE workforce
We invite you to join the e-network and actively participate in and contribute to it. We welcome your ideas as to how we can develop and continuously improve what we do. You can use the forums to discuss your ideas with other members of the community or the contact link to send a message to the project team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.