A 'Practical Ideas for Happier Living' course run by Kingston Council has been extended permanently after findings showed significant positive results for adult learners that attended.

The programme, run by Kingston Council’s Adult Education, covers topics such as resilience, the importance of doing things for others, connecting with people, mindfulness and finding ways to bounce back from adversity.

Results from the first year showed that 61 per cent of learners who started their course with anxiety or depression no longer had clinically significant symptoms at the end of the course.

Sam Burgess, Head of Service at Kingston Adult Education, said: "We are very proud of the amazing impact this course has had. In addition to helping over 300 people, this course has built up a great, supportive community. Since completing the course, learners have independently forged friendships and groups to support each other and share experiences. Others have been inspired to join walking groups or volunteer with the homeless.

"We are hoping the coming year is just as successful for all our new learners."

The council were first awarded the funding in April 2015, as part of a £20 million community learning mental health research project. The aim was to identify the potential for adult and community learning courses to help people manage and recover from mild to moderate mental health problems. Kingston was one of only 52 providers nationwide to receive the funding.

Attendees were similarly enthusiastic about the course. Derek Underwood, a retired engineer from Surbiton who had been struggling with insomnia and had to rely on medication, was one of the learners who benefited from the programme.

Mr Underwood said: "I can’t praise the effect the course has had on me too highly. It enabled me to completely re-evaluate my attitude to life and resulted in a much more positive outlook and general enthusiasm to everyday living.

"I am now off all medication. I admit that I was fairly sceptical at the start of the course but as a retired pensioner this course has inspired me with a 'Joie De Vivre' and cheerfulness for everyday life."