AHEAD in VET – mentAl HEalth AmbassaDors in VET institutions

Epidemics, uncertain economic situations and wars are putting more and more strain on people. The COVID-19 crisis has clearly shown the state of mental health of the European population. Mental illness among adults is on the rise and many counselling services are already available. Teachers and trainers are also becoming more alert to mental health problems among children and young people. In adult education, this attention is still limited. However, psychological conspicuities or mental problems can have far-reaching consequences and limit the entire life of adults. In the field of VET education, trainers or teachers can also respond to these problems.

However, the mental health of learners and how to deal with mental problems are usually not addressed in the curricula of trainers and teachers. As mental health problems are still a taboo subject in society and stigmas towards those affected prevail, VET institutions are generally not prepared for them either. For this reason, there is a need to develop innovative approaches to bridge the gap of missing competencies and to sensitise adult education institutions to the mental health of learners in order to remain competitive.

Therefore, the AHEAD in VET project aims to equip teachers and trainers with sufficient skills and competences to feel well-equipped to deal with their learners’ mental health problems and resilient enough to limit personal distress and ultimately maintain work motivation. The project also aims to provide VET institutions with a tool to show them how they can raise awareness of mental health among their staff and help them continue to be an attractive training provider.

The following outcomes are planned in the project:

  1. PODCAST: Through mental health experts, a broad network will be established, and teachers and trainers will be able to learn about important topics.
  2. SELF-EVALUATION TOOL: A self-assessment tool will be created during the project so that teachers and trainers can assess their competences and reflect on what they have already learned and in which areas competences still have to be acquired.
  3. E-LEARNING COURSE: The e-learning course and the curriculum required for it will be specially adapted to the requirements of the teachers and trainers and can also be applied to other areas of education.
  4. MOOC: In order to reach as many people as possible with the learning content, a MOOC will be developed. The open online course offers a versatile learning environment, similar to the curriculum of the e-learning course, with comments from experts.
  5. STRATEGY PAPER: A strategy paper will be designed for VET providers to make them aware of the project’s programme.
  6. POLICY PAPER: In order to create as much awareness as possible about mental health and to draw attention to the existing problems, an evidence-based policy paper will be written for policy makers.

Finally, a European Mental Health Conference will be organised. Experts from the project and external partners will come together to pave the way for improving mental health.

TEACHERS AND TRAINERS IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION as well as INSTITUTIONS IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION should benefit from the project. We want to ensure that more awareness is created about mental health. The project and the results should support teachers and trainers in their daily work and help them to deal with mental health problems of their learners.

Furthermore, the project also appeals to all adult education organisations as well as other educational institutions, associations and policy makers. The project aims to raise awareness of mental health issues among decision makers of teachers and trainers so that a long-term change can take place.

Through the project, we aim to:

  • Further raise awareness in the VET sector and address mental health issues as a topic of concern to all
  • Create a broad target audience for all project products from the very beginning
  • Ensure credibility and trust in the project brand
  • Develop training resources on mental health that are recognised and reputable in the field
  • Develop educational resources in a modular and flexible way
  • Ensure that learning opportunities are well received through pilots
  • Ensure that the project reaches the policy level at regional, national and European level with its strong partnership.