Education in its many diverse forms is embedded in the work we do as a charity. Integral, but not always visible, we wanted to share with you the range of educational approaches and opportunities that we offer patients, staff and external peers, and the positive impact that this has on the people in our care and who work for us.
Our Recovery College takes an educational rather than a clinical or rehabilitation approach to improving mental health. As far as possible the distinction between service users and staff is avoided and there is an emphasis on co-production, co-delivery and co-participation in learning. A person with experience of mental health problems can be engaged in designing and delivering courses and not everyone participating in those courses will have a psychiatric diagnosis.
Meet our Recovery College Lead
"What makes St Andrew's REDS College uniquely different to most educational establishments, particularly in health settings, is that we teach our patients and our staff in the same room at the same time; it's a co-co-co production." Steve Parker
REDS co-production means that we work in collaboration with our students, clinicians, staff and patients to design and deliver courses using our collective knowledge and experience. This approach champions each member of the co-production team as an equal partner. Working together in this way is hugely beneficial for all involved; everyone contributes, everyone learns and REDS are able to provide relevant, impactful and meaningful content.
Meet Violet, a Peer Trainer in our REDS Recovery College
In her video, Violet talks about how she lost everything following her mental breakdown and how re-training and working as a Peer Trainer in our Recovery and Every Day Skills (REDS) Recovery College was key to her recovery.
" I think the benefits of co-production are that patients get to input their views and opinions...because no one knows mental health problems better than the people who have experienced them. Taking a REDS course means that people are in an environment where they are not just a patient, they are another member of that course so that they are as valued as the member of staff that may be sitting next to them.
At REDS it's really great for patients to be in an environment where they are treated as a person rather than just a condition"
Our courses are open to patients, carers and staff at St Andrew's free of charge, and members of the public can contact us to find out about courses in the community. Our range of courses is extensive, below is a small sample:
My Values, My Recovery, My Life
Managing your Money
Instilling and Holding the Hope
Starting to Improve your Self-Belief
Drama for Confidence
Basic Life Support
Keeping Well When Others are Unwell
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
What are Wellness Tools?
Discovery of Recovery
Having the flexibility to be ward based, as well as working within designated classrooms, allows the team to use engagement sessions to encourage patients to feel comfortable with expressing their learning needs. This approach is key to building confidence, as Frances says;
"I might, for example, go onto a ward with the iPad and do an engagement session with a patient around IT. Through that you begin to start a conversation and build a relationship "Oh, how do you feel about doing a little more Maths or we could do some English, or what about creative writing? That's often our way in."
Watch our education team videos showcasing the diverse ways that we support our patients' learning
“I thought there was no hope at all. I’ll never forget the teaching staff in the Education Suite. They gave me knowledge, confidence and self-worth.” A St Andrew's patient speaking about the positive impact of Adult Education
Our Adult Education services work within the charity to support patients to gain qualifications across a range of vocational and academic options and the team is here to facilitate people to meet their own personal goals and interests. As Frances Rainford, a Teacher in Adult Education explains;
"Adult education comes in so many different forms; so if you are interested in something we'll try to fulfil that, if you want a qualification we'll help you get that. It could be anything from vocational skills in sport or horticulture or it could be that a patient wants to gain a qualification in core functional areas like English and Maths. Some patients here can't read so one of my key priorities is making sure that when they leave us that they can."
Whatever a patient needs they will be supported by our Education team to undertake their own studies at their own pace and at a level suitable for them whether they wish to achieve new skills for personal achievement or a qualification.
The range of courses we offer include:
Skills for Employment, Training and Personal Development
Economic Wellbeing and Financial Capability
Action planning for your own Development
Nutrition, Performance and Healthy Eating
Health and Safety
Physical fitness planning
Tracy is a patient in our adult learning disability service and teacher, Katie, meets with her every Tuesday to cover a number of topics including; reading, history and quizzing. Katie describes Tracy’s enthusiasm for lessons and how they work together:
“Tracy is blind and on a constant 2:1. Although her disability affects the resources we can use it does not affect her eagerness and willingness to learn and participate, she is a keen quizmaster so sessions often begin with a general knowledge quiz – her favourite subject is History, in particular the Victorian era.
Tracy enjoys engaging in meaningful debates about the subjects that interest her and the texts read during sessions often spark discussion and have, so far, included; Women’s Rights and the rise of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
Every week I end the session by reading a novel to Tracy, currently we are reading 'The Diary of Anne Frank' together, she always listens intently and offers valuable insights into the text.
I always look forward to my sessions with Tracy and we have a great therapeutic relationship built on a shared love of literature, Tracy appears to value the one-to-one time we spend together learning and although she can frequently present as unsettled on the ward she rarely misses her education session.”
In the past 18 months (2020 -21) over 40 Adult Services patients at St Andrews have achieved a total of 256 individual units awarded by West Midlands Open College Network.
In addition our Adult Education team offer; Enterprise sessions, Reading groups, Project groups, Drop in ICT sessions and Library sessions for patients' individual development and enjoyment.
Each of our service areas has dedicated education rooms which are well resourced with laptops, printer, the internet and a large interactive screen. Courses are delivered by an experienced, qualified Teacher and Teaching Assistants, and our team often work directly with patients on the wards. There are also a number of patient libraries across our sites, providing a space for people to engage with books and media and relax and chat with staff and other patients.
Learning and gaining skills can be a key element of a person’s recovery whilst they are with us at St Andrew’s - achieving academic qualifications and/or vocational experience is empowering, builds confidence and contributes to a sense of wellbeing.
St Andrew’s College, is the learning environment at the heart of our CAMHS service which employs an approach directly aligned to the therapies and programmes employed across the wards;
‘CAMHS run a trauma informed approach for all of our young people and we have tried really hard in the college to align ourselves to that, so we have a trauma informed school’s approach that works hand in hand with that. This means that if a young person comes in to the service and they are very unwell and really fearful of school, then we just spend time alongside them, getting to know them and building trust so that we can take their learning further when they are ready’ Cheryl Smith, Head Teacher
Activ8 curriculum is based on the National curriculum and includes access to all subject areas, but is taught in a more bespoke way to enable our complex learners to feel safe and make progress.
Much of our Education is delivered in a 1:1 format with teachers to provide individual teaching and learning opportunities. As young people make progress we may build some group sessions into the timetable to encourage collaborative working and cooperation.
Being able to support schools and share our expertise in the field of young people's mental health is important to St Andrew's as a charity and to our CAMHS college team, and so we've devised our LightBulb Mental Wellness for Schools Programme. As Cheryl explains;
'Our LightBulb programme provides schools with an opportunity to build a culture of mental health support for their students. It's a real responsibility for us to make sure we're using our skills to help schools in the community to pick up on problems early on and support their young people.'
To find out more about the LightBulb programme visit our web page HERE