From education to employment

NIACE Conference to Address Issues Faced by Adults with Mental Health Difficulties #FEsavedME

Following a report from the Social Exclusion Unit in June 2004 that called for an increase in the number of adults with mental health problems in further education, the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) will be holding a conference examining how much progress has been made, and how far there remains to go.

The conference will be held on Friday the 8th of July 2004, in Marble Arch in London. The conference, entitled the Adult Education and Mental Health: Supporting Social Inclusion through Adult Learning Conference will address the continuing exclusion experienced by adults with mental health difficulties. Not even a quarter of these individuals are in employment, and many spend their time in isolation, which is often a contributory factor to deteriorating mental health and suicide.

A Life Changed

The conference’s mission was outlined by Kathryn James, the Development Officer for Learning and Health at NIACE, who said: “Adult learning plays an important part in combating the exclusion that people experiencing mental health difficulties face. This is not just because it improves employment prospects but because it can also help build confidence, provide meaningful activity and offer a place where people make friends.”

Kathryn James went on to share the experiences of one learner who had been in contact with her, who said: “Coming to college saved my life. Two years ago I was on anti-depressants, drinking too much and taking drugs, and I couldnt bear to leave the house. My family didnt think I would make it to my 30th birthday. But here I am, getting a qualification, Ive made new friends and I feel great.”

And, although it will serve to demonstrate the important strides made in this direction, the conference will also look forward to the future course that must be taken. As Kathryn James put it: “It will (also) look at what still needs to be done in the forthcoming year if we are to really make a difference to the life chances of adults with mental health needs.”

Jethro Marsh

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