New City College Hackney held a well attended “Exam Success” event on Wednesday 24 April in partnership with the Trust's Therapy & Life Skills Service. The College’s student mental health support service is a great example of what a community based, integrated care service looks like – a jointly run collaboration between New City College and the East London Foundation Trust, which works with people suffering mental ill-health with a view to getting them into education, or supporting them once they are in it if needed.
Last year the service succeeded in helping 386 people navigate into education services, or supported them whilst there. It works across colleges in Tower Hamlets and Redbridge, as well as Hackney.
The service has been recognised for the unique support it brings to people in the community, having won several national, high profile awards in recent years. These include the national further education colleges’ version of the Oscars - a Beacon Award for widening participation; the highest recognition a college service can get - as well as the Queen’s Jubilee Anniversary Prize, and a Times Education Supplement award.
John McClean, the Service’s Group Lead for Mental Health described how the event on Wednesday worked to support students around exam times as well as enhance the profile of the service:
“The key target of the day that we set out to achieve was to promote strategies to enable students to cope better with exam stress. Occupation Therapists from City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health were making bath bombs and talking to students about managing stress generally and before exams.
“My team and I were making stress balls, talking to students about events and activities and how they can get involved. We also had an interactive Exam Success Board which students use as a way to exchange knowledge on how to cope with exam stress.
“It was a really vibrant day, with a good number of students taking part.”
As well as working hard to encourage people to take part in education opportunities across all the boroughs, John and his team provide vital liaison between tutors, teachers and students. If a student is an in-patient on a hospital ward, they will work hard to keep them engaged and motivated by helping to adjust lesson plans and where necessary develop strategies to help students attend exams.
The service also organises sessions in class on mental health and well-being, and work hard to develop a positive rapport with students in order to reduce the stigma that can be associated with mental ill-health.