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Two-way support as learners engage with mental health charity

Enterprise learners at Eastleigh College pulled on resources from Hampshire’s leading mental health charity, Solent Mind, as they worked in teams to create a mental health awareness campaign as part of their Teamwork Unit.

Learners planned and executed various elements of a campaign to raise mental health awareness among college students and school pupils across the Southampton area. This included creating educational videos, running interactive workshops, information events and giving presentations, as well as organising fundraising activities for the charity.

Mental health advocate and Heads-Up project founder and lead with Solent Mind, Abby Oakley, campaigns, raises awareness and delivers education across the Solent region. She has been running workshops at Eastleigh College for 10 years, and worked with learners on the Enterprise Skills course, sharing her own mental health experiences and knowledge. 

Abby said: “The interaction between the charity and college is really important to raise awareness to the college students and to get them thinking more about their own mental health, as well as the mental wellbeing of their peers. 

“The workshops ignite conversation about how we can all help each other, making working with the students so rewarding.”

First year earner, Yasmin Kooner, has first-hand experience using the charity and was delighted to be involved. She said: “Solent Mind is such a worthy cause. It may not always seem like it but you’re helping people even just by speaking out about mental health.  

“I liked the freedom we had whilst planning and creating the awareness campaign. The groups we made and the mix of different people made each presentation feel different and unique.”

Fellow student, Tia Mae Neill, added: “Abby's visits have helped me feel ok about my mental health and that I am not alone as people all around the world suffer from it. I have also been educated on different types of mental health and that mental health isn't always bad.

Enterprise teacher, Angela Horn, added: “We’re extremely grateful to Abby for her support, as working on this real work project has benefited our learners on so many levels.

“They’ve gained accurate knowledge on the subject of mental health which can be used personally, and passed on to educate or support their peers and friends now and in the future.

“Abby’s brief provided a genuine opportunity that has helped them to gain exposure and invaluable work experience, and they’ve also further developed life skills and employability skills such as organising, teamwork, meeting deadlines, presenting and delivering against a brief. It’s a joy to see their abilities and confidence grow.”

“It was quite poignant when one learner spoke to the group about how they had previously benefited from Solent Mind’s services after the loss of a parent. They explained how the support they received helped them to regain confidence and return from the dark place they had found themself in. This really brought home to everyone how impactful the charity is and the importance of education and awareness campaigns.” 

The learners' videos have been widely shared and are also available on the Solent Mind website, and the range of supportive educational resources are continuing to be used in tutorials and life skills sessions at a number of schools.

Abby concluded: “I think the students’ awareness campaign is amazing and inspirational, thought provoking and really current.”