Mental Health+ is a two-year Erasmus+ KA2 project which will establish requirements for positive mental health provision in Vocational Education and Training (VET) across Europe. This will be achieved through the creation of governance and benchmarking tools and resources which will enable VET organisations to understand and improve their approach to mental health. Although there is a growing acceptance of people with mental health issues across Europe, particularly within younger generations, there are currently no official services in place within VET to support these learners. As a result, those with mental health issues are overrepresented in early drop out and unemployment rates and have a higher risk of becoming long-term unemployed. To address this, our project will develop a series of tools and resources that will guide VET organisations in developing services that are inclusive and promote the well-being of all young people, encouraging them to continue with education, develop key employability skills and start fulfilling careers, improving overall long-term social inclusion.
The three resources that the project will produce to help the VET sector fully understand how mental health well-being fits in with their services and how to become more mental health inclusive are:
A Mental Health+ Charter
This charter will set out the minimum requirements an organisation should adhere to in order to consider their provisions inclusive of learners with mental health issues. This will include provision on HR policy, staff training, course design, facilities offered and student support services.
A Benchmarking Tool
An interactive digital benchmarking tool will be developed for VET organisations to help them understand how inclusive their organisation is. Organisations will be able to assess their current services and track their improvement in mental health inclusivity by scoring themselves against the MH+ Charter. This will form a ‘Mental Health Footprint’ with organisations being awarded a lower score, and therefore smaller footprint, the closer there are to being fully mental health inclusive. Resources will also be available to guide VET organisations on how they can improve their provision. Organisations that achieve an excellent footprint will be awarded a MH+ quality mark which can be used to promote their mental health inclusive status.
Mental Health+ Champion skills profile
A skills profile and additional resources to help organisations develop the role of a ‘Mental Health Champion’ will be developed. This is because the most impactful and successful provision is developed in organisations that have a dedicated member of staff driving policy developments. The project’s primary target groups will be VET organisation leaders, HR managers and equality and diversity leaders from across Europe as they are responsible for developing governance structures within VET.
As mental health is such a diverse and specialist topic, two of our partners are experts in mental health provision and support: Fundacion Intras from Spain and Hugarafl from Iceland. All other organisations have experience in developing learning resources and materials for VET: BFE from Bulgaria, CESIE from Italy and Learnmera Oy from Finland. We also specialise in developing educational content for this sector and are coordinating the project.
We are very excited to begin this project in October, so keep an eye out for updates from our kick-off meeting in Valladolid, Spain at the end of the year!