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44 students graduated from Brighton and Hove Recovery College, run by Southdown Housing and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The college helps people to recover from mental health problems through learning about topics such as how to manage depression and psychosis to get back into learning and focus on wellbeing at work. They were presented with a certificate of achievement by Brighton and Hove Mayor Brian Fitch at a special ceremony at The Friends Meeting House in Ship Street, Brighton.

Former engineer Peter Harris, 54, from Hangleton, joined the college in a bid to overcome severe depression and suicidal thoughts he has experienced since 1999, when he was diagnosed with paranoia and anxiety.

He said: “The returning to learning and work and wellbeing classes boosted my confidence hugely and gave me a purpose in life.

“I now want to learn more computer skills, take another course next year and get a new job.”

Kate Webb, Southdown Housing’s college co-ordinator, praised the commitment of the students.

Martin Dominy, the group’s head of mental health services, said nearly a quarter of adults can experience mental health issues. He said: “Too often mental health is misunderstood and overlooked. It’s vital we continue to develop the care and support that Sussex people need.”

Adrian Whittington, director of education and training at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the college offered a radical approach to learning about mental health. He said: “We have found students completing courses have typically made significant progress to achieve their own recovery goals.”