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Case study

Facilitated ‘learning journey’ for UK Government: strategies for mental health

Learning process designed in collaboration with UK Government which demonstrated notable contributions to impact across programming, policy improvement, learning and capability.

Dates
November 2018 to January 2020
Approximate cost
£57,000
Format
Training & facilitated discussions, supported by learning materials.
Location
UK Government Offices with country office staff joining remotely.

Objective

To equip UK Government staff with the knowledge needed to respond to the inclusion of mental health in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Relevance

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda calls for a global shift to translate momentum in mental health research in low- and middle-income countries into real-world policy and programming, in order to ensure that “no one is left behind”.

Unfortunately, many people working in international development don’t feel they have the basic mental health literacy that they need to start engaging with this topic.

This learning journey was designed to help equip development professionals to respond to the inclusion of mental health in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, within their own programmes and within the sector more broadly, by cultivating an active community of practice and building new networks with key partners in the UK and other countries.

Design

The ‘learning journey’ built on IDS’ experience running similar activities with other donors and the institute’s many years at the forefront of participatory learning approaches. It was delivered in connection with a large IDS-led programme: Knowledge, Evidence and Learning for Development (K4D). K4D have led more than 40 learning journeys.

Learning journeys are collaborative across disciplines, usually involve other UK government departments and development partners, and provide spaces for discussion and reflection linked to real case working scenarios and application.

They are facilitated by thematic experts and supported by evidence syntheses and learning products to increase uptake.

This particular example of a learning journey was coordinated by the Mental Health Innovation Network in collaboration with K4D, for the former UK Department for International Development (DFID, now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, or FCDO).

It involved trainings and facilitated sessions on:

  • Health systems approaches to mental health, with a focus on rights-based reform.
  • The relationship between mental health and gender equality, poverty reduction and other key goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda, as well as how to measure inclusion and impact on mental health outcomes.
  • Child and adolescent mental health and youth involvement.
  • Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings.

A host of supporting learning materials were also produced, including: videos, infographics, and a Topic Guide on Mental Health for Sustainable Development specifically targeted at development professionals and co-authored by academics, policy-makers and staff of NGOs focused on disability-inclusive development.

Delivery

All 40 of K4D’s learning journeys were delivered by a consortium of leading organisations working in international development, led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), with the Education Development Trust, Itad, University of Leeds Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), University of Birmingham International Development Department (IDD) and the University of Manchester Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI).

The mental health learning journey was coordinated by the Mental Health Innovation Network in collaboration with the IDS K4D programme. Delivery partners included:

IDS staff involved in this learning journey included:

Participant information

Social Development Advisors and other development professionals in the former UK Department for International Development (DFID, now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, or FCDO).

Participant numbers

  • More than 300

Impact

This ‘learning journey’ demonstrated some notable contributions to impact across programming, policy improvement, learning and capability.

The learning activities – which involved training, ‘expert surgeries’ and roundtable discussions, supported by a range of learning products – led to a joint guidance note for humanitarian advisors from the World Health Organization and UK Department of International Development (DFID), as well as DFID offices in Syria and Yemen identifying new approaches and partners for integrating mental health into their work. Learnings are also reflected and referenced in DFID’s Theory of Change and Position Paper on mental health and psychosocial disabilities which was launched in August 2020 alongside K4D’s Topic Guide for Development Professionals.

Key contacts

Image of Joanna Howard

Joanna Howard

Research Fellow and Cluster Leader

j.howard@ids.ac.uk

Image of Ben O’Donovan-Iland

Ben O’Donovan-Iland

Communications and Impact Officer

b.odonovan-iland@ids.ac.uk

About this case study

Research themes
Evidence into policy Health

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