Collaborative project creates e-learning platform for Suffolk Mind

Suffolk Mind, the University of Suffolk and the University of Essex secured funding for an EIRA Research and Development Grant in January 2021 to create a digital platform that would help to improve people’s mental wellbeing.



The EIRA grant was awarded for the organisations to work together to develop, deploy and evaluate a new working prototype of an e-learning platform that supports the face-to-face training Suffolk Mind already delivers across the county.

Around 3,000 people a year attend Suffolk Mind’s ‘Suffolk’s Needs Met’ and ‘Your Needs Met’ training courses, which dispels some of the myths around mental health and raises awareness of emotional needs. The creation of a new digital platform would improve flexibility and increase engagement with Suffolk Mind through the delivery of this course, significantly increasing the reach and impact of these services around Suffolk and beyond.


The Challenge


All of us have mental health, just as we have physical health. We are all on the mental health continuum – and we move up and down it depending on how we cope with the challenges of life and the stresses that it creates.

Suffolk Mind works across the continuum, providing support and information for everyone. Their goal is to help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues and give the public an insight into what resources are available from their services.  

For many people who juggle work, home life, and other responsibilities, being able to access learning and support in a simple and effective way online will be easier and more efficient than attending face-to-face training, particularly for those less mobile or people living in rural areas. The project was designed and approved before COVID-19, but during the pandemic, the awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues became of national significance as the stresses and strains of national and regional lockdowns took their toll. As a result, the project outcome is now of even greater importance as individuals and organisations in both the public and private sectors seek to understand and support mental health-related issues at home and in the workplace.


The Approach 


There was great synergy between the organisations who each focused on their areas of expertise. This became a key factor as each partner explored and adapted their vision for the project during the COVID-19 outbreak. The University of Suffolk with its proficiency in computer science lead on managing and developing the front-end and back of the platform, whilst the University of Essex utilised its research capabilities, focusing on gaining valuable feedback from public testing to enhance the user experience. 


The Outcome 


The project has created a working prototype of the digital delivery platform, with content provided by Suffolk Mind for users to engage in self-help methodology. This working prototype has undergone rigorous user testing which has confirmed its value and generated lessons in relation to its future development and use. This has helped to ensure that the e-learning platform can deliver a simple to use, effective and well-designed interface for more users to engage with Suffolk Mind’s key mental health content and services. 

Jon Neal, Chief Executive, Suffolk Mind commented:

“We’re really pleased with the result of this project. While a lot of our training has moved online during the pandemic, the e-learning platform will be an important additional resource to complement what we can deliver both physically and through interactive web-based activities.

“It will also present income generating potential, as we continue to build the content, that will contribute to the long term sustainability of Suffolk Mind and enable us to make more resources available to help more people with their wellbeing long into the future.”

Dr Jeremy Davenport, EIRA KE Manager, at the University of Essex says:

“During the time of COVID, which brought with it the awareness of how important mental health and wellbeing is to all of us, the importance and potential value from this collaboration became even more apparent.” 


The aim to increase awareness and help the public gain an insight into what resources are available from Suffolk Mind’s services are evident in the outcomes of the prototype survey:

  • 96% of participants could utilise tips and advice from the content 
  • 92% of participant claimed to know more about mental health than before after engaging in the digital programme
  • 98% of participants found the training helpful and informative 
  • 95% of participants would like to see the e-learning platform used in the workplace


Next Steps 


Suffolk Mind is committed to taking the platform to the next stage of development with enhanced functionality and content. It is likely that both EIRA partners will work to support this future development and discussions are ongoing as to the shape and timing of the follow up support.

The successful delivery of this project could provide a strong foundation on which to develop the charity’s income generating elements in the future.


Contact for any queries

Jon Neal – Chief Executive, Suffolk Mind