Adult Community Learning, Wellbeing, and Mental Health Recovery

  • Lydia LewisEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter presents an overview of research on the outcomes and processes of adult community learning (ACL) in relation to wellbeing for older people and mental health recovery, focusing on the theme of mutuality. It is argued that mutuality, in terms of sharing and reciprocity between people, is an important aspect of social inclusion and also central to promoting wellbeing and supporting mental health recovery. Consequently, the chapter focuses on the ways in which ACL provision generates forms of mutuality at interpersonal and social levels. This includes shared learning and mutual support between and among adult learners, tutors, and others involved as part of an inclusive approach.

The chapter begins with some background on social inequalities, social exclusion, and mental health and wellbeing and by outlining the social inclusion and mental health and wellbeing policy agendas for ACL in the UK context and some of the issues these agendas raise. It then provides an overview of research on the impact of ACL on wellbeing and mental health recovery, focusing on provision for older people and ACL that is targeted for mental health. This section considers the processes and benefits associated with generating mutuality within and through adult learning groups, as well as possible “disbenefits” for mental health and wellbeing of taking part in ACL. The chapter concludes by highlighting some of the contextual features conducive to meeting mental health and wellbeing needs in ACL, including those of staff, and by addressing some core criticisms of this policy agenda for ACL. It is argued that meeting this agenda requires retention of the emancipatory intention and core values of ACL.


Adult community learning Mental health Recovery Wellbeing Social exclusion Social inclusion Social inequalities Mental health inequalities Wider benefits of learning Critical pedagogy Feminist pedagogy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationUniversity of WolverhamptonWalsallUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • David John Matheson
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Health, Education and Well-beingUniversity of WolverhamptonWalsallUK

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