Uxbridge College students were inspired to express themselves in art as part of a mental health and well-being programme provided by Arts for Life Project and NHS Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Arts for Life staff worked with around 80 A Level, GCSE and Vocational Science students from Uxbridge College’s Sixth Form Centre, using paint and mixed media to help them create their own pieces based on themes including nature and animals. The final pieces were auctioned off at college, raising a total of £300 which will go towards running another art session for students.

A total of 30 college staff also received a two-day emotional well-being training delivered by Arts for Life, teaching them to better recognise and address the signs of stress and emotional challenges in themselves and their students, and further training is due to take place in the autumn. The Association of Colleges’ Week of Action - 13-17 May - also sees the launch of its Mental Health & Well-being Charter which Uxbridge College has signed up to. The charter backs work by colleges across the UK to provide the best possible support for good mental health for staff and students.

Kiran Rami, Head of Guidance & Student Support, who led on the project at Uxbridge College, said: “It was great for students, particularly those who might not have had much experience with creative projects, to feel the positive benefits of taking part in this kind of activity, and it was really useful for staff to learn more about understanding and managing mental health. Uxbridge College really appreciates having had the chance to work with the NHS and the Arts for Life Project on this.”

John Beckles, Children and Young Peoples Emotional Well-being/Mental Health Commissioner from NHS Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group, which provided funding for the training and arts workshops at Uxbridge College, said: “This programme has successfully developed a whole college approach to emotional well-being and mental health which will provide early identification, intervention and support for students with emotional well-being and mental health issues. This will help to develop an understanding of how staff and students at the college can work together to effectively manage emotional well-being and mental health issues”.

Jacqui Dennaford, Director, Arts For Life Project, said: "We were delighted to be asked to participate in this valuable and much-needed pilot programme. The outcomes have far exceeded our expectations and the feedback and follow through from both staff and students has begun to filter through the college. The charity was welcomed and supported by all partners in the programme and looks forward to developing the programme for further reach in the months ahead."

NHS Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is responsible for buying and arranging health services in Hillingdon including community health and hospital services.

Arts for Life Project is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company which runs workshops and support programmes through schools and college to support young people’s mental and emotional well-being. It runs group arts sessions, mental health training and one-to-one support for young people, their families, and teachers, tutors and lecturers.

As part of Uxbridge College, the Uxbridge College Sixth Form Centre provides a range of A Level, GCSE and Vocational Science programmes. Sixth Form Centre students progress on to a range of future study programmes and career paths, including going on to Higher Education courses including to University.