Pioneering sports intervention programme raises awareness of mental illness

Tackling the Blues

More than 100 Sport and Physical Activity students have contributed to an award-winning sport, physical activity and education-based mental health awareness programme that has engaged over 300 young people from some of the North West’s most deprived areas.

Tackling the Blues targets young people who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing, mental illness. The students have provided a range of interactive physical and classroom based activities which have been associated with positive behaviour change among children experiencing mental illness. They have also acted as peer mentors, undertaken various mental health and suicide prevention training courses, and carried out research on the impact of the programme as part of their academic studies. Tackling the Blues was recognised in 2016 with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’ award at the Times Higher Education Awards, and has also been featured on Match of the Day and BBC Five Live, as well as influencing Government mental health and suicide prevention policy.

“In the last decade, rates of mental illness in children and young people have been increasing rapidly, with those living in areas of social and economic deprivation being most affected. It is absolutely magnificent to be recognised as being ‘best in class’ for our work with Edge Hill University on mental health.”

Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale MBE, Deputy Chief Executive of Everton Football Club and Executive Chair of Everton in the Community