This is the executive summary of the national roll-out data evaluation report covering training between March 2017 and July 2017.
 

Introduction

Connect 5 is a training programme that aims to build the capacity and capability of the wider public facing workforce to have more proactive and evidence-based conversations about mental health.

These conversations are intended to contribute toward promoting mental wellbeing, preventing mental health deterioration and when necessary identifying and taking appropriate action to address mental distress. 

Following the planning and engagement with stakeholders made during Phase 1, Phase 2 comprised of 9 train the trainer courses delivered across all nine areas of England which resulted in the training of 143 people from 93 organizations. The training took place between March 2017 and July 2017.

Phase 3 of Connect 5 train the trainer roll-out covers the period between September 2017 and April 2018. The primary aims were:

  • To administer and analyse a 3-month and 6-9 month follow-up surveys with all those trained in Phase 2
  • To establish and populate an electronic database of Connect 5 trainers to be used for ongoing data collection and virtual networking
  • To provide communication and support to the establishment of regional network of 243 trainers
     

The data used in this phase was collected by RSPH by sending out surveys via email. The 6-9 month follow up survey was developed by RSPH based on the 3 month evaluation form tested in phase 2 of the project.

The aim was to explore the extent to which the roll out of training had been taking place and how well the programme was being embedded within local systems.

Additionally, 4 case studies of current Connect 5 trainers were developed through semi-structured interviews during February and April 2018 and a descriptive statistical report was elaborated based on the evaluation data which was sent to us by approximately 37 trainers. 

Trainer Survey

The questionnaire was sent to 62 Trainers in January 2018, approximately 6-9 months after they had completed their Train the Trainer (TtT) programme, and 40 responses were collected. Key findings include:

  • 70% of the trainers had delivered their first training session within four months of having received the TtT course, and 81.6% were planning to deliver Connect 5 sessions at some point in the future
  • All the respondents who had delivered training at the time of the survey had facilitated at least one Session One, 93.9% at least one Session 2, and 81.8% all three sessions
  • 33 trainers delivered a total of 193 training sessions
  • At least 391 participants had attended these training sessions
  • Groups sizes per training ranged widely from 3-30+
  • In West Midlands and South West nearly half of the trainers (46.2% and 44.4%) had delivered one session, 39% in the North West, 32% in the North East and 32% in the South East 
  • The training is reaching a very wide workforce spanning both volunteers and professional groups across a range of sectors, including community health and wellbeing workers, public health specialists and practitioners, and social care and housing staff
  • Many trainers had identified opportunities to embed Connect 5, or parts of it, into existing mandatory and discretionary courses
     

Trainee’s experience of Connect 5

Trainees were asked to complete evaluation forms at four intervals - before the first session (Pre), after the first session (S1), and at the end of the second and third sessions (S2, S3) and rate their current knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing; how important they thought it was to support individuals to have a conversation about their mental health and wellbeing, and how confident they felt in having a conversation with individuals about their mental health and wellbeing on a scale of 0-5.
 

The evaluation forms were administered by the Trainers. The main findings were:

  • RSPH collected evaluation forms for around 400 trainees who participated in the roll out of Connect 5 since the completion of the Train the Trainer programme in 2017. Of these almost a quarter had completed sessions 1, 2 and 3
  • Knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing, and the trainee’s confidence in having a conversation with individuals about their mental health and wellbeing, increased from the pre-course baseline
  • For those who attended all 3 sessions, both knowledge and understanding as well as confidence presented statistically significant changes
  • The trainers were highly praised for the quality of courses and their delivery emphasising the practical focus, group work, and professional mix of participants
     

Case studies

In order to get a better picture of the experiences of Connect 5 Trainers about delivering Connect 5 training and their insights into its impact, four semi-structured interviews were held with Trainers in different sectors and regions to capture their stories. The conclusion was:

  • Organisations which have seen that Connect 5 fulfils their strategic needs and they have taken a systems based approach to delivering it (planning well ahead, offering the training to those appropriately in contact with the public, and increasing the pool of trainers to meet the growing demand), the training can reach very large numbers of the wider workforce, impacting positively on their confidence and skills
  • Information about the training spreads rapidly by word of mouth increasing demand, as trainees find it improves their confidence and empowers them to hold conversations about mental wellbeing
  • The training complements organisational changes in workforce job roles, for example from specialist to generalist by increasing confidence and empowering staff as well as broadening knowledge about other local services already available so that staff can signpost clients to them, thus making better use of existing service provision
  • The Trainers commented that they felt empowered by the training and re-invigorated in their work
  • Regional leads noted Connect 5 training explicitly aligned in all regions to a number of policy and workforce development areas including: Making Every Contact Count; the Prevention Concordat for better mental health; HEE Mental Health Workforce Transformation – Stepping Forward to 2020/21; the Forward View for Mental health; Healthy work places; Emergency Services concordat; Healthy Universities; Improving Lives: The Future of Health, Work and Disability Green and White Papers
     

Conclusion

The investment thus far in Connect 5 has been effective in developing the methodology and content of an effective mental health promotion training programme which has the potential to embed mental health promotion in services and professional practice.  

The programme has proven to be acceptable and adaptable to different groups in different contexts and where it has been delivered in a supported and planned way, it has shown to reach a very large section of the public facing workforce and effectively improve understanding, knowledge and skills for mental health promotion. 

The evaluation process has emphasised the importance of national and local leadership as well as enough resources to implement training and provide ongoing support to trainers. 

A critical review of the content of Connect 5 in comparison to other key training offers such as MECC and MHFA as well as enhancement of the quality assurance of trainers are recommended as part of the next phase of the programme. It is hoped that building on the recommendations will enable it to scale up and increase impact significantly.