Newcastle College is proud to announce that a student-led project won the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award at the Educate North Awards 2023, held in Manchester on Thursday 27 April. 

The Educate North Awards is a prestigious annual awards event which celebrates, recognises and shares best practice and excellence in the education sector in the North.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, which celebrates excellence in mental health and wellbeing interventions, was awarded to the College in recognition of its Mental Health and Wellbeing Digital Project.

The project, part funded by the Office for Students (OfS), aims to increase the mental health literacy of higher education students from lower socio-economic backgrounds across four of NCG’s colleges (Newcastle College University Centre, Carlisle College, Kidderminster College and Southwark College).

Split into three strands of Prevention, Support and Intervention, the project saw students partner with the UK's student mental health charity Student Minds and mental fitness app Fika, while collaborating with internal departments such as safeguarding and support teams.

Exploring how digital innovation can influence and enhance mental health support, using new ideas alongside established methods, the project has now been in action for 12 months, and is based on an ethos of providing provide knowledge, early intervention, and quick, meaningful, easy to access support when needed.

As part of the project, 22 students were recruited into the roles of Mental Health Student Fellows, tasked with developing and delivering activities and resources to support mental health and wellbeing on campuses, including podcasts, webinars, poster campaigns and fitness challenges. In addition, a competition has been launched across NCG’s colleges, challenging those students on digital technology courses to design and build software, an app or a game to support wellbeing and help build resilience.

The project has been a great success so far, with awareness of mental health support at NCG significantly increasing amongst students. At the start of the project, 55% of students thought ‘regularly’, ‘often’, or ‘extremely regularly’ about their mental health, compared to 70% more recently.

Jon Ridley, NCG’s Deputy Principal, Executive Lead HE, said: “I am thrilled that the team has received this well-deserved recognition for such a fantastic project. I'm incredibly proud that this project has been led by students for the benefit of students and has provided safe spaces to discuss mental health issues, as well as increasing mental health literacy, and providing one-to-one counselling support. We have a wonderful supportive community of staff and students at Newcastle College University Centre.”