Connect 5 in the North: Delivery and Evaluation Report
Connect 5 is a training programme that aims to build the capacity and capability of non-specialist frontline 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. Objectives of Connect 5 derive from national policy on mental health and behavioural research.
 
This report presents the journey of Connect 5 as a tool for mental health promotion in the North of England. The project, commissioned by Health Education England (HEE), commenced in 2017 and was led by RSPH.
 
It began with promotion work, followed by recruitment of lead organisations and participants, and the delivery of a Train the Trainer (TtT) programme. The final phase of the project involved supporting new trainers with training roll out in their locality. RSPH carried out an internal evaluation of the Connect 5 model and effectiveness of TtT, using post training and 3 months and 6 months follow up survey data. 
 
Key evaluation results:
  • Connect 5 workforce training participants reported a significant increase in knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing, as well as an increase in confidence to have conversations about mental health and wellbeing
  • TtT participants reported that the programme met their expectations, and it prepared them well to deliver Connect 5 workforce training to their peers. The quality and relevance of Connect 5 training resources were also highly rated
  • 18 Connect 5 trainers have cascaded training to an estimated 669 individuals at the time of writing this report
  • 49 out of 59 trainers have reported the intention to deliver training in the near future
  • Trainers who have delivered training report to have secure support for Connect 5 cascade training from their Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and networks, which facilitated the promotion of the training and ensured steady take up. 
  • Trainers have reported that the experiences of qualifying as Connect 5 trainers and cascading the training have been largely positive including good feedback from their participants. 

Our main recommendation suggests strengthening system leadership for the ongoing developments and future innovations of the Connect 5 programme. For commissioners, we recommend promoting the scale up of Connect 5 as part of their strategic approach to public mental health promotion, prevention of ill health and integrated physical and mental health.

For the next phase of the project, the recommendations are around developing mechanisms to increase uptake of the TtT as well as to support trainers as they cascade training.

Connect 5 workforce training has the potential to set about a change in the current approach to mental health. By overcoming the challenges and limitations outlined in this report, the wide spread and sustainability of Connect 5 could be ensured, and it could continue to empower frontline workforce in improving the public’s wellbeing. 

For more information read the full report Connect 5 in the North: delivery and evaluation.