Free short courses to improve mental health in Leeds
Individuals who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and addiction can enrol onto one of four courses which are offered through Converge; a partnership between Leeds Trinity University, University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds College of Music, Leeds Mind and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Each course is delivered by a small group of final year or postgraduate students at each of the institutions.
Students from Leeds Beckett University delivered an eight-week course in popular electronic music to Converge participants.
Ryan Murray, a Music Technology student at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Every session presented a new challenge; but we’ve learnt so much and it’s been a privilege to be able to help the students to not just increase their technical skills, but to build and sustain a positive outlook in their time with us.
“Watching the participants enjoy the sessions as much as we did has also improved our confidence in teaching electronic music production. We hope classes like this can continue so that students like ourselves can carry on making an important contribution to community arts.”
Richard Wall, Associate Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a really exciting development. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes. One of our ambitions as a Trust is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and improve recovery options and opportunities for people.
“These courses offer opportunities for people to find new communities, build new friendships and learn new skills. Meaningful activity is really important for improving mental health, and we are pleased to be part of this development.”
Converge is being delivered as a pilot project in Leeds, following a successful nine-year project at York St John University. In that time, more than 1,000 students have enrolled on courses including theatre, dance, music, fine arts, creative writing, life coaching, psychology and sport. Eight students have gone on to study on undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
Dr Nick Rowe, Founder and Director of Converge at York St John University, said: “What distinguishes Converge is that it offers a model of collaboration between universities and mental health service providers that can make a real difference in the lives of users of mental health services, full-time students and the university community. Each can learn from and alongside the other. It matches the ‘core business’ of its key providers: the university educates its students; the health service has a valuable provision for its clients; and students learn through working alongside people who have experienced mental health problems.
On Thursday 23 March, course leaders, students and Converge leaders joined mental health charity Leeds Mind at Inkwell Arts; a creative art space in Chapel Allerton, for an event to celebrate the project in Leeds.