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The Centre for the Study of Global Development marks World Mental Health Day

The picture is of a young child and their mother studying in a classroom

On 10 October 2022, the Centre for the Study of Global Development (CSGD) was delighted to host its first cross-hub seminar event to mark World Mental Health Day (WMHD). Reflecting the 2022 WMHD theme ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, the centre was privileged to host three guest speakers who shared their research that has aimed to support the mental wellbeing of distinct groups across the life course. Whilst the three projects were located in very different contexts and fields, a unifying theme was the importance of taking an inter-sector and multi-professional working approach to support mental wellbeing in a more holistic way. The presenters spoke to the CSGD’s core belief of the importance of tackling societal challenges through an interdisciplinary lens, and that by working across disciplines we can enhance understanding and create more inclusive and robust solutions.

Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Education: Including pregnant girls and young mothers in the SAGE learning programme in Zimbabwe

In her presentation, Mercy Ndabambi (Safeguarding Coordinator, Plan International Zimbabwe) highlighted the ways in which the Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Education (SAGE) programme has safely included pregnant girls and young mothers in its non-formal education activities. SAGE is a consortium of six partners, led by Plan International with the OU team as the academic lead, and it is funded by UK Aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge. The emphasis on safeguarding has been a uniting feature across SAGE's holistic and gender-transformative approach and its engagement with communities. SAGE has enabled flexible learning pathways to be tailored for pregnant girls, through activities such as door-to-door support from educators. Supporting pregnant girls and young mothers to learn outside of a static learning structure is very unique. Girls and young women have been encouraged to access learning by bringing their children and babies to the learning hubs and in completing SAGE’s vocational learning strand they have acquired the skills required to provide for their young families. Through learning about their rights, girls and young women have been able to educate their partners and husbands and assert their autonomy within their households, positively influencing community attitudes towards girls’ education, which in turn has positively impacted on girls’ learning, relationships and wellbeing.     

For further information about the OU and SAGE, please contact SAGE’s OU Academic Director - Professor Liz Chamberlain (liz.chamberlain@open.ac.uk) The SAGE learning resources are freely available via The Open University’s OpenLearn create platform. Access the free SAGE learning resources on The Open University’s OpenLearn Create platform 

The picture is of the INTERPRET-DD team standing together.

The INTERPRET-DD team

Mental health in adults with type 2 diabetes: a global study

In the second presentation, Kristina van Dam, doctoral candidate at Middlesex University, reported her research findings from the International Prevalence & Treatment of Diabetes and Depression (INTERPRET-DD) study, a multi-disciplinary study taking place in 17 countries across the globe. This study is investigating the prevalence of depression in people with type 2 diabetes and the care pathways that are initiated for treatment. Findings have emphasised the importance of stressful life events in increasing the likelihood of developing depression; events which are often experienced differently depending on cultural context. Importantly, depression was rarely identified or treated within current clinical practice. Indeed, one immediate benefit of the INTERPRET-DD study has been that, until diagnosed by investigative team, those in need of psychological/psychiatric support had not received any care and are now being treated appropriately. Findings from the study have also highlighted the significant overlap between the emotional distress associated with having diabetes and depressive symptoms which need to be investigated to optimise treatment. 

For further information about the INTERPET-DD project, please contact the project lead - Professor Cathy Lloyd (cathy.lloyd@open.ac.uk 

This is a group picture from a Lingo Flamingo where everyone’s wearing a hat and holding yellow and red balloons.

A group photo of a Lingo Flamingo class

Mental health benefits of learning languages with senior learners – a collaboration with Lingo Flamingo

In the final presentation, Bärbel Brash, Dr Sylvia Warnecke and Rosi Mele, discussed the work of social enterprise Lingo Flamingo. The extensive work of Lingo Flamingo in Scottish care homes and community settings demonstrates the significant impact that language learning can have as a non-medical intervention on mental health. The online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course Learning languages with senior learners, designed in collaboration between The Open University in Scotland and Lingo Flamingo, is aimed at social care staff and people caring for a person with dementia in community settings or care homes. The course builds on research investigating the benefits of language learning in older age, such as that being bilingual can delay the onset of dementia for up to five years and teaches strategies to put this into practice. The course evaluation underlined that language learning in care led to better social cohesion, more trust-based relationships between all involved, carers’ enhanced job satisfaction and residents’ increased confidence. In 2023 the course will also have a professional recognition element, in the form of accreditation through a Scottish Social Services Council Open Badge. 

For further information please contact: Dr Sylvia Warnecke (sylvia.warnecke@open.ac.uk) or Bärbel Brash (baerbel.brash@open.ac.uk).  

This blog was written by Dr Philippa Waterhouse, Professor Liz Chamberlain and Mercy Ndabambi, Professor Cathy Lloyd and Bärbel Brash.

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