Community Learning Mental Health Research Project

Scrabble board containing words associated with the mental health research project such as chat, stress, coping, research

A FREE Short Course


Darlington Borough Council Learning & Skills service is part of a national research project to determine whether short adult education courses will benefit those individuals with mild to moderate mental health issues. The courses run from November 2016 to July 2017 and course start dates will be updated on this webpage.

We will be measuring the impact of attending a course on an individual’s mental wellbeing using specific assessment tools.

It is hoped that this national research will prove that such courses have a positive impact on people’s mental wellbeing and the evidence will help secure government funding for adult education courses in the future.

The project is open to anyone aged 19 years and over who has mild to moderate mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and low mood.

Everyone who is interested will take part in a 1:1 meeting with a dedicated member of our staff who will discuss how you feel and ask you to complete three simple questionnaires to determine your eligibility for the research. You will discuss which particular course is appealing to you and will discuss a start date.

Most courses last 2-3 hours per week for a 6 week period.

You will only be eligible to attend one course so careful selection will be part of the discussion in order that you attend the course most appropriate for your needs.

We repeat the short questionnaires during your programme of learning to see how this will impact on your mental health and optional top up sessions will be available.

The FREE course you could choose will be one of these but we will be adding more choices so please revisit this page: 

SHINE to help you with anxiety, stress and low mood

  • Monday 11.30am - 2pm – at Evolution, Church Row, Darlington
  • Starts 6th March 2017 and runs for 5 weeks
  • Tutor - Karen Hughes

A 5 week course designed to improve your confidence and self-esteem to enable you to be your best and help you SHINE more in everyday life. We will explore comfort zones, confidence, self-esteem, mindfulness and living well (healthy eating, sleep etc.)

This image shows a picture of the sun shining in a blue sky to illustrate the name of the course- Shine Laughter Is The Best Medicine card to illustrate the name of the course designed to help learners relax with laughter excerises

Laugh Away Your Stress

  • Tuesday 12 noon - 2.30pm  – at Evolution, Church Row, Darlington
  • Starts 7th March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks
  • Tutor - Karen Hughes

A 6 week course designed to help you understand stress, your personal stress triggers and how laughter yoga and other strategies can help. You will learn relaxation exercises and each session will provide the opportunity to share ideas, strategies and experiences, check on progress and receive support from our tutor.

Write For Me

  • Monday 9am-12:30pm at Crown Street Library ICT room
  • Starts 20th March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks
  • Tutor - Katie Hunt

Join this informal and therapeutic 6 week creative writing course and explore how to express your thoughts and feelings through writing. Discover how writing can help us express ourselves and cope better. Whether you are a complete beginner (good spelling and grammar not important) or have experienced the joy of writing before, we will all learn together in a friendly and supportive manner.

man with notebook or diary writing some notes to illustrate the Write for Me creative Writing course Closeup portrait, teacher showing how to create fine arts and craft on mixed media canvas

Re focus with Digital Photography

  • Wednesday 2.30pm - 5pm at The Coleridge Centre ICT room
  • Starts 8th March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks
  • Tutor - Glyn Heaviside

Joining this informal and therapeutic 6 week course will include in depth demonstration of techniques, explanations as to the function and hands on instruction with your own camera, as well as providing an opportunity to share activities that help you recognise and manage your symptoms. Sessions will often include field trips to local points of interest in order to make practical use of your new skills.

During the course you will need to bring a digital camera plus any additional items you may wish to use: tripods, gorilla pods etc. It is highly recommended that you bring your manual and spare, fully charged batteries and a spare empty memory card.

6 Senior friends male and female taking selfie photography which you can learn to do on this course Hispanic woman photographing food which you might do on your course

Create Wellbeing

  • Monday 1.30pm - 4pm – at The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts, Yarm Road, Darlington
  • Starts 13th March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks
  • Tutor – Petra Lloyd

Creativity can be good for you.  Gain confidence and develop new skills, make new friends and learn something fun in a relaxed atmosphere.  Explore ideas and techniques with ceramics, textiles, printing, drawing and painting.

Rejuvenate with up cycled Art

  • Tuesday 6pm - 8.30pm – Scrap Studio Arts based inside Borough Road Nursery, Borough Road, Darlington
  • Starts 7th March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks.
  • Tutor – Yvonne Preston

Working with recycled or up cycled materials, you can transform and create whatever you wish through the use of collage, painting, printing, sewing, modelling etc.-or get creative and work on your own project. A great opportunity to express yourself in a hands on, friendly environment.

Rejuvenateart Small

Recipes from the 6 Nations

  • Thursday 6pm - 9pm – at Hummersknott Academy 
  • Starts 2nd March 2017 and runs for 6 weeks

This course is targeted at males who would like to ‘try’ and ‘tackle’ recipes from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy during the rugby tournament. This is a predominately practical cookery course over a 6-week period. The aim of the course being to introduce different ideas, styles of cooking, ingredients and specific dishes associated with the 6 Nations countries. The course is suitable for male learners of all ages and all levels of ability. Please note that all cooking ingredients and serving dishes must be supplied by the learners themselves, including tea-towels, oven gloves, aprons etc., as well as containers to take food home. Cooking equipment will be available at the teaching centre.

Recipes From The 6 Nations, 6 rugby balls coloured in their respective flags


How to enrol?

If you are aged over 19 years and feel you have a mild to moderate mental health condition please call us on 01325 405601 or email l& and we will arrange your 1:1 chat. If you are reading this and know a family member or a friend you would like to refer, please discuss this with them and ask them to get in touch with us.

megaphone & the words We Want You illustrating that we want you to contact us about the project

What happens with my data?

You must consent to your data being used (anonymously) for this research project. At all times we will abide by The Data Protection Act 1998.

Young woman writing the word research  to emphasise our project is a research project

What happens at my first meeting?

At your first agreed meeting, you will be given a self-assessment to complete which will give us an indication of your mental wellbeing. We will discuss your aspirations and any barriers you are facing and provide information, advice and guidance for your next steps.

Depending on the outcome of the self-assessment, you may be eligible to attend one short course under this research project or attend other community learning courses. The tools we use for self-assessment are Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ9), Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD7) and the short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMBWS)

An image of a man listening to a woman and providing information, advice and guidance as you will receive at your 1:1 meeting and throughout your course

What happens during my course?

During your course you will learn a new interest or hobby and find methods to relax or cope with your wellbeing. You will also have the opportunity to discuss how you are feeling within the lessons and share coping strategies and reflect upon your experiences. All this will be conducted within a safe, supportive, informal and confidential setting with small groups and a dedicated tutor. You will complete further self-assessments during your course to see how you are feeling and progressing and will receive further information, advice and guidance.

There will also be opportunities for optional Top Up sessions for you to discuss coping strategies or your next steps.

If all of this sounds interesting and appealing and you want to book your 1:1 chat, or you want to talk with someone to find out more about the project and the courses, please call us now on 01325 405601 or e mail us l&

a signpost pointing to the right with the word Optimism, illustrating that we want our courses to help learners become more optimistic about their future a sign showing the word Wellness in different colours.

Further reading can be found at

Mental Health Awareness Week

This takes place from 8th to 14th May 2017

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