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Tackling the Blues mental health programme wins research and innovation award

Publish date: June 24, 2022

The Tackling the Blues mental health programme for children and young people has won a North West Coast Research and Innovation Award.

Dr Helen O’Keeffe and Professor Andy Smith

The Tackling the Blues mental health programme for children and young people has won a North West Coast Research and Innovation Award.

The awards celebrate success and excellence in the health and care sector across the region.

The unique prevention and early intervention sports and arts-based education programme, delivered in partnership between Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool, won the Tackling Health Inequalities award.

Ongoing programme research reveals how Tackling the Blues increases young people’s mental health literacy, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves self-confidence and self-esteem.

Dr Helen O’Keeffe, from the Faculty of Education, and Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity, who lead the project for Edge Hill, said all three partner organisations were delighted by the news.

“This latest win reflects our collective continued commitment to tackling mental health inequalities experienced by young people and undertaking cutting edge research which has a demonstrable impact on the lives of young people, the work of schools, and the mental health support available in local communities”

Jack Mullineux, Tackling the Blues Lead Coordinator at Everton in the Community, said: “We’re delighted to hear that Tackling the Blues has won this award.

“Improving the mental health of children, young people and their communities is so important and we are extremely proud of the impact Tackling the Blues has had. It’s absolutely fantastic the programme has been recognised for addressing health inequalities in this way.”

Pupils in Walton at Tackling the blues

Alison Jones, Programme Manager, Public & Community Learning at Tate Liverpool, said: “This award win recognises the positive impact art can have in supporting children and young people’s mental health literacy.

The win comes hot on the heels of Tackling the Blues winning the ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ award at the Educate North Awards in April, rewarding the programme’s success and impact.

The impact and quality of research undertaken on the programme was also recognised in the University’s Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism submission to the Research Excellence Framework 2021.

And the impact of Edge Hill’s sport and mental health research, including Tackling the Blues, was rated as ‘world leading’ and 73% of our sports research was rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (Times Higher Education, 2022). Tackling the Blues is funded by the Office for Students (OfS) and Research England with support from the Premier League Charitable Fund.

Launched in 2015 to address an unmet mental health need among children and young people, the programme has benefitted the mental health of more than 2,000 6-16-year-olds and nearly 3,000 university students in areas with some of the poorest health and educational wellbeing nationally. It has engaged with more than 30 schools and enabled students to secure graduate-level jobs supporting the mental health of others.

The North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards are hosted by the Innovation Agency, NIHR Clinical Research Network North West Coast, and Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast, and this year the host was BBC North West Tonight presenter Roger Johnson.

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