Newsletter #1 : One year of Psych Up

According to the latest research of the World Health Organization, five of the ten most worrying pathologies of the 21st century  concern psychiatry.  

« Parlons Psy, une réflexion citoyenne sur la santé mentale », Let’s talk psy, a citizen’s reflection on mental health, a paper conducted in 2019 by the Fondation France and the Institut Montaigne, indicates that in France about 2 millions people live with serious and long-lasting mental health disturbances; yet, these diseases are still poorly known, hidden and poorly treated.  In response to this, the European Union take measures to fooster equity and inclusion actions to those living under varying situations leading to discrimination, precarity, and mental health instability.  

Psych Up : a project aimed to better support learners suffering from psychological disturbances in their training and learning path

Launched in October 2018, Psych Up is co-funded by the European commision. As you may know, the project target primarily the professionals in the fields of vocational education, training and social integration, who are continously accompanying learners with diverse profiles.

These profesionnals are receiving more and more public suffering from psychological disturbances. This situation leads to changes and innovation in their professional practices : their methods and positions must be adapted to better cope this new reality on the ground. However, not all of these professionals are trained to deal with these particular public. They are lacking the expertise and knowledge in the field of psychiatry and psychological disturbances.

In order to advance this issue, the project hopes to :

  • Contribute to the recognition and professionalisation of those working within vocational education and training organisations that play a role in supporting people with psychological disturbances.  
  • Promote the exchange of existing knowledge and good practice regarding the mentoring and support of learners souffering from psychological disturbances.  

What does the Psych Up referent do ?

This was the main question asked in the first year of the project.  In order to provide a better support to learners within vocational education and training (VET) centers, workers organise themselves to take up a complementary function, that of « psychological disturbances referent« , or Psych Up Referent as we call it on the project. This mission is carried out by workers with various profiles : trainers, social worker, pedagogical coordinators, psychosocial support worker, etc. The construction and definition of a function profile of the psychological referent describing its key activities, competences and knowledge was the first object of work of partners.

The aim of this first stage was to mobilise experts of the subject (education and training professionals, health professionals, medico-social workers) to identify the major difficulties they encountered on the field. These exchanges allowed to identify the needs and ways to improve the support provided to the learners.

In total, more than 200 people were mobilised for the activities carried out in the 6 countries involved in the project, leading to the construction of the function profile of the Psych Up Referent. This first production was developed collecting information via :

  • An online survey
  • Observation visits in VET centres
  •  Individual interviews with education and training professionals
  • Focus groups gathering experts in the support of the targeted public
  • Summary report of all the activities conducted by the partners

These activities allowed us to complete the profile function, will soon be available on the Productions corner of the website.

Reflection on the training of the Psych Up referent

Adriana asks us if we are aware of any course for teachers to acquire new skills and deal with the problems of managing the class group. I explained the PSYCH UP project in detail and it seems very interested to stay up to date if specific training was activated. (Extract from an interview conducted in Italy)

The focus of the second year will be the design of a training framework for the Psych Up referent. What does the referent need to learn to be effective in employment ? This is the analysis that the consortium is currently conducting to develop this trainig framework. Based on the function profile, AID, the belgian partner, has elaborated a first proposal to be discussed at focus group organised in each country involved in the project and will bring together stakeholders from the education, training and mental health sectors.