Programme to tackle children's mental health problems has been shortlisted for a
A new programme combining emoji bingo
and sport to tackle children's mental health across Merseyside has been
shortlisted for a top award.
Tackling the Blues (TtB), an early intervention programme targeting 6 to 16 year olds, in Merseyside's most disadvantaged areas, has been shortlisted at
this year's:- 'Times Higher Education Awards.'
The programme, launched by Edge Hill University in partnership with Everton in
the Community, the official charity of Everton Football Club, uses sport and
education to help children with, or at risk of mental health issues.
Emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activities are used to increase
self-esteem and reduce anxiety in children whilst helping them build positive
relationships with peers and external agencies.
Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University,
said:- "We launched TtB in response to the very significant mental health
problems facing young people. 8 in 10 are not accessing mental health services,
others have to wait 9 months to access support.
Inequality and deprivation are high in the North West and TtB operates in areas
ranked amongst the 85% most disadvantaged areas of the country. Our early
intervention programme tackles a variety of mental illness from depression and
anxiety to eating disorders and anger management. Without TtB many young people
would just slip through the net."
Volunteer students from Edge Hill's Department of Sport and Physical Activity
and Faculty of Education are trained in internationally accredited mental health
qualifications to deliver weekly sessions in schools, acting as mentors to the
Jon Jones, Edge Hill Project Lead for TtB, said:- "Operating across nine
secondary schools and two young carer groups, the sessions mix sport and
physical activity with educational workshops on topics such as stigma, bullying
and emotions where 'emoji bingo' is used to encourage children to talk
about their feelings. Delivering activities that children can relate to has
allowed us to start informal discussions around mental health whilst maintaining
their engagement and enjoyment."
Conor, 13, a pupil at Hillside High School in Bootle, said:- "TtB helps me
with my feelings and doing sport. If I felt down or upset or was angry in other
lessons I knew I could talk about it and I don't really get angry anymore."
Fellow pupil, Nathan, 13, said:- "TtB teaches you how mental
health affects people and how you can overcome it. Sometimes I felt upset but I
spoke to people in school and my parents. Now if I feel angry I walk away from
it. I'm also helping the Year 7's teaching them about mental health."
Chrissie Doran, Progress Leader for Years 7 and 8 at Hillside High School,
added:- "TtB is really helping. We've see our students learn new skills,
make new friends and they access support from different types of people making
them feel more confident and better about themselves. Students on TtB are more
likely to come to school, take part in school life and are generally more
engaged and communicative."
The volunteers are assisted by mentors and coaches from Everton's official
charity to maximise the impact of the brand of the Club which has helped recruit
and retain 95% of young people, over the last 15 months.
Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton in the Community, said:-
"TtB is part of our wider work in the community promoting health and
wellbeing. 1 of the key areas is mental health and we've found football is a
highly effective engagement tool to reach people who wouldn't normally engage.
Once they're involved in a programme we can start a conversation with them, help
tackle the stigma and work alongside partners such as the NHS and other agencies
TtB has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
Category in the 'Times Higher Education Awards.' The winner will be announced in
London, on 24 November 2016.
Charles Knight, a Senior Lecturer in Business and Management at Edge Hill
University has also been shortlisted in the:- 'Most Innovative Teacher of the Year'