An NHS ‘college’ which went ‘virtual’ to continue providing free courses supporting mental wellbeing throughout the pandemic has just launched a new Spring prospectus.
Leicestershire Recovery College, run by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, offers recovery-focused courses and resources to support the mental wellbeing of people aged 18 and over who have lived experience of mental ill health.
Its innovative curriculum – which even includes classes in comedy – is designed to help people gain new insights into their mental wellbeing, develop their knowledge and skills around mental and physical wellbeing and boost their recovery and resilience.
The college, which opened in 2013, is based on the Glenfield Hospital site in Leicester, with satellite venues across Leicestershire and Rutland. But when Lockdown restrictions ruled out face-to-face teaching, the college went ‘virtual’ to ensure students could carry on getting support and resources for their wellbeing amid unprecedented challenges.(See Rhonda’s story below).
They did this by switching from classroom sessions to virtual teaching via a web-based meetings programme, providing telephone support for students; networking and sharing resources through a closed Facebook group and providing free resources and information on the Trust’s website including an online mindfulness course and ‘gratitude tips’ from one their tutors.
Recovery College operational manager Emma Gartland (right) explained: “It has been great for students to stay connected by accessing our courses during this difficult time.
“We are continuing to deliver virtual courses for spring term 2021 with the hope of delivering some courses in the classroom later in the term.
“Adults interested in enrolling can do so over the phone by calling 0116 295 1196 – no referral is needed. We will work with new students to develop an individual learning plan that helps them to identify courses that may be beneficial to their recovery.”
New courses and workshops for the Spring term include mindfulness courses and:
- Managing wellbeing during uncertainty – this course has been developed to support people during unprecedented times. This course focuses on understanding why we feel negative emotions when we are experiencing uncertainty and includes tools and techniques to manage them
- Healthy eating
- Introduction to stress awareness
- Understanding a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
- Five Ways to Wellbeing
- Comedy for Recovery – introduction session on for this term will be followed up with a six-week course next term. It aims to discover how the art of making each other laugh can improve confidence, self-esteem, literacy and communication skills, and aid recovery. It’s led by stand-up poet Rob Gee who explains: “Laughter has a vital role in the world of mental health: it diffuses tension, creates common ground and helps to put seemingly insurmountable problems into context. As someone I once nursed so perfectly put it: ‘Laughter reminds us we’re not alone and strokes a broken soul.’ This course helps people rediscover their funny bone in a way that is safe and relaxing.”
Courses, offered with a range of partners and delivered by tutors from inside and outside the Trust, are also open to service users’ family, friends and carers and to the Trust’s own staff. There are now 2,430 students enrolled and feedback has shown the difference the support has made to students during the Covid-19 outbreak:
Student Rhonda Randall, from Thurmaston explains: “Enrolling with the recovery college has been one of the best things I have done regarding my mental illness.
“I signed up initially for a learning to surf – Introduction to Mindfulness course in the classroom – I can remember the smell of mint leaves which brought back lovely memories of my childhood. I learned about anxiety and had signed up for another course in the classroom but then Covid happened but I was able to sign up for the online courses.
“I feel part of something, a community of like-minded people I feel comfortable with and can share things, knowing they all understand where I’m coming from. Overall, learning so much about different aspects of mental illness has really helped me in managing my own struggles and has made a huge difference in my overall mental health.
“My favourite course is ‘introduction to recovery’*. The tutors make you feel so at ease, they make the whole process easy to follow and to join in. “I have agoraphobia and have found the online courses make it easier for me, they are easy to join and navigate and I am not half as anxious so I look forward each week to the class.”
- Introduction to recovery in mental health is a five-week introductory course that has been reshaped for online learning to help people explore what recovery means and how to live with different conditions. It is built around research-based evidence and has been described as an uplifting experience that also focuses on service users’ lived experience and five key principles:
- Connectedness – Peer support relationships and social inclusion
- Hope – optimism, beliefs, dreams and aspirations
- Identity – having a positive sense of self
- Meaning – making sense of what happened, having a purpose and direction
- Empowerment – focusing on strengths, being positive, we don’t responsibility and taking back control over one’s life
The new prospectus is available free of charge on request from the college on 0116 295 1196, via email to email@example.com or electronically from the Trust’s website at www.leicspart.nhs.uk (Look under A-Z of services).
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) provides community health, mental health and learning disabilities services for the one million people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We have a budget in excess of £278 million and employ approximately 6,300 staff. For more information visit: www.leicspart.nhs.uk. Our registered charity is called Raising Health (charity number 1057361). The charity fundraises to support excellent care initiatives, equipment and innovations which go above and beyond core NHS provision to enhance the experience of our patients, service users and staff. See www.raisinghealth.org.uk
For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org