Extracting mental health improvement messages from existing courses

Highlighting the importance of mental wellbeing messages in delivering the Health Issues in the Community Training Pack resulted in improved understanding and confidence.

‘Health Issues in the Community’ (HIIC) is a learning resource supported by NHS Health Scotland. It focuses on local communities’ responses to the status of their health across different topics. It explores determinants such as poverty, inequality and power differentials. The Community Health Exchange, CHEX, provides the tutor training and support.

Elspeth Gracey and Robert Cuthbert, Development Managers from CHEX consulted NHS Health Scotland staff on promoting awareness of ‘Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland’ (TAMFS).They then delivered two training courses to HIIC tutors. The three aims were:

  • to raise awareness of mental health improvement within the HIIC training course
  • to highlight how tutors could use the course for mental health promotion
  • to increase confidence in using the training course and materials in relation to mental health improvement.

In preparation for the course, Elspeth and Robert reviewed HIIC resources and extracted material relevant to mental health and wellbeing. This material was delivered to tutors in Edinburgh and Glasgow in information and group activities.

Impact and results

Elspeth explains, ‘Tutors were asked to complete a questionnaire to establish their levels of mental health awareness, or whether they had gone through mental health training in the past. ‘Levels were high, with 70% measuring themselves as having good or excellent understanding of mental health. It would be a challenge to raise this higher.’

Information gleaned from post-training questionnaire and feedback from the day showed an increase. ‘From the post-questionnaire, 67% reported increased awareness of mental health issues,’ adds Elspeth. This number is similar in other areas, 73% saying they are more aware of the potential for trainees to have mental health issues, and they are more confident in promoting mental wellbeing to course participants.

Many trainers new to HIIC said that they felt more confident in their overall ability to train, more experienced trainers found benefit in sharing knowledge.

Areas for improvement and development include:

  • understanding the experience and knowledge of participants before delivering the course, outlining what the focus and scope is of the material to be covered by using a pre-course questionnaire
  • focus on intended outcomes and what is wanted from delivery of the course
  • follow up to see whether this effect has manifested would be useful to further evidence this change.

Wider implications for learning and workforce development

This case study demonstrates two cost-effective ways of disseminating mental health improvement messages: firstly by using an existing course and secondly by training tutors rather than participants directly. Training a small number of tutors has an impact on improving the mental health improvement knowledge of a large number of learners.


Elspeth Gracey, Development Manager, CHEX elspeth@scdc.org.uk 0141 248 1990