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Students redefine mental health support through industry placement at Calderdale charity

T Level Health students are being given the chance to redefine mental health programmes through their industry placement at Calderdale mental health support service Unmasked Mental Health.

Unmasked Mental Health is currently working with two Calderdale College students who are gaining valuable employability skills and experience in this new and instrumental sector.

They have been enlisted to work on a six-week programme to help with educating young people on mental health awareness and finding the best ways to engage with them.

As part of their T Level qualification, students undertake a 315-hour placement based in a relevant workplace to help them experience the real-life working environment.

Logan Bonham Smith, Founder of Unmasked Mental Health, said of the students' remit: “We’re using different resources to collate information on the best way to educate students because it’s a difficult subject.

When presented to a young person from the ages five to 13 it can be a difficult conversation, so we need to lighten that and our placement students have brought a fresh perspective.

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“They’ve been working to put a different spin on the programme, for example, not only using PowerPoint, but creating interactive games to understand feelings and words like depression and anxiety.”

Since Calderdale College launched T Levels in September 2021, local employers have begun partnering with the organisation to help students put their learning into practice.

T Levels are the newest qualification for 16–18-year-olds, designed by the Government in collaboration with 250 major businesses. Equivalent to three A Levels, these two-year courses go beyond the basics in industry and give students all the current skills and knowledge they need to secure employment once they finish their studies.

The Health T Level, one of the first subjects to be delivered at Calderdale College, goes above and beyond the basics of Health and Social Care to give students expert knowledge across multiple clinical environments.

Logan added: “For me, taking on students for industry placement was about helping them develop and it was something which wasn’t accessible for me growing up.

“I didn’t have the chance to go into a workplace and see how organisations were ran. I thought this was a brilliant opportunity to get people in and develop them with a chance I didn’t have.”

When asked if he would recommend other employers to take on T Level students, Logan said: “One hundred per cent, I’ve already recommended it to a number of employees. I think it’s a great programme. “It’s about being able to support students, the next generation of people trying to make this country better.”