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The Open University launches new FutureLearn microcredential to help teachers tackle student mental health crisis

20 February 2020, London UK: The Open University, a world leader in inclusive education, has launched a new microcredential looking at embedding mental health in the curriculum, open for enrolments now on FutureLearn.com and starting on the 30th March 2020.

According to an NHS report, 12.8% of 5-19 year olds have a mental health disorder. Despite the urgency of this issue, and repeated calls for action on mental health made globally, panelists at a BETT Mental Health and Wellbeing session agreed that there is little guidance offered to teachers in this area. 

Teacher Training: Embedding Mental Health in the Curriculum is built on the idea that wellbeing should begin in the classroom, and that supporting mental wellbeing should be proactively built into the curriculum – rather than something that is reactively provided when a student is experiencing difficulties.

The 10 week online course, worth 10 UK credits, is designed to equip teachers at any level with the skills to positively impact the wellbeing and mental health of their students. It guides them through the process of embedding mental wellbeing into their teaching, covering topics such the relationship between mental health and learning, inclusive learning design and pedagogy, and the barriers to cementing mental health teaching as part of the curriculum.

Inclusive education is at the heart of The Open University’s mission and they have approximately 28,000 students who disclose a disability, over 16,000 who disclose mental health issues. Since 2017, they have been working on a university-wide initiative to embed mental wellbeing in the curriculum, and through this microcredential they are now looking to share this expertise with teachers, from primary to higher education, across the globe.

Microcredentials are accredited, online courses designed to help learners build specialised skills relevant to their career. They provide the flexibility to learn alongside work and other commitments and can result in academic and professional credit to help learners advance in their careers.

Finola Lang, global education lead at FutureLearn, commented, 

“We are delighted to be partnering with The Open University to offer the Teacher Training: Embedding Mental Health in the Curriculum microcredential. We are excited to see the impact of microcredentials in the teaching space as our recent focus on these credit-bearing courses has come in direct response to learner demand and the global need for upskilling across professions. We are particularly pleased to be involved with The Open University’s work on such an important topic – with mental health services under strain, and mental health problems among young people at an all time high, it is vital that practices to promote wellbeing and remove mental health stigma begin in the classroom.”

Kate Lister, manager for accessibility and inclusive practice at The Open University, commented,

“At The Open University we believe learning environments should foster mental health and wellbeing, but unfortunately in many cases school and university cultures can actually contribute to mental health problems. Though this is a relatively newly researched area, more reports are emerging that suggest that in order to make a real impact, mental wellbeing needs to be embedded throughout learning, teaching and assessment. Through this microcredential we hope to empower teachers to employ these strategies and create mentally healthy classrooms.” 

About FutureLearn 

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform formed in December 2012 by The Open University and is now jointly owned by The Open University and The SEEK Group. FutureLearn has over 10 million people signed up worldwide. FutureLearn uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible online courses as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that improve working lives. It partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE). It’s also involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education. 

About the Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the university was founded with a clear purpose: to open up education to all. Since beginning in 1969, the OU has taught more than two million students worldwide and has over 170,000 current students.

Over 75% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and 78 FTSE 100 companies sponsored staff on OU modules in 17/18.

The OU has had a unique educational partnership with the BBC since 1971, collaborating on a range of content across TV, radio and digital channels/platforms. Each year the OU co-produces approximately 35 prime-time TV and radio series including, Hospital, Blue Planet, Inside the Foreign Office, Our Dementia Choir and 8 Days: To the Moon and Back. We achieved more than 351m viewing and listening events last year which prompted more than 8.9 million visitors in the year 2018/19­ to the OU’s free learning website, OpenLearn. 

For further information about OU co-productions please visit our website: http://www.open.ac.uk/