Sandy MacLean, CDN’s Curriculum and Teaching Lead, explores the implications for the sector and its practitioners with an increasing incidence of mental health issues amongst the student population. One of the ways that CDN is responding to the need to support teaching staff is through professional development which includes an online course that can be accessed via CDN Learn Online.

Mental illness continues to be one of the major public health challenges in Scotland. The latest statistics released by the Scottish Government indicate that around one in three people are affected by mental illness in any one year.

Anecdotal evidence from college staff within CDN’s Networks indicate that there has been a large rise in students presenting with mental health issues and a rise in students accessing both Student Services and counselling services for support with their mental health. Amongst other things, colleges are about education and training within a supportive learning environment. They are not mental health specialist services, so it can be overwhelming for lecturers and tutors who are unclear how best to meet the mental health needs of their students within the college environment whilst staying within their role.

In addition, it is increasingly difficult for teaching staff to take time away from college to attend face-to-face professional learning events. With that in mind and in response to requests from the sector, we developed an online Student Mental Health course a couple of years ago. This sits within the Inclusive Practitioner section on CDN Learn Online and is still as relevant.

Who is the course for?

The course is aimed at lecturers and tutors working in Scotland’s colleges. As well as providing relevant background knowledge, the content is intended to be useful in your daily work. It will also help you to meet the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges relating to effective and inclusive practice.

How do you complete this course?

You can dip in and out of this course at times convenient to you and in any order you like. You will gain an understanding of key factors which influence student mental health, strategies that help to support good mental health and the difference you can make within the learning environment to influence recovery. Additionally, we will also look at good practice in responding to students in crisis and how we can pro-actively combat stigma.

It’s important to remember that this course is not about developing your knowledge in order to take on additional or different roles but ensuring that you feel confident and equipped to support the mental health needs of your students. Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on the mental health of your students within the learning and teaching environment. You don’t need to be an expert in mental health to make a difference!

For further information about this online course, or other professional learning opportunities related to mental health wellbeing and resilience, please contact Sandy MacLean: sandy.maclean@cdn.ac.uk

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