Tackling the Blues

Tackling the Blues is a sport, physical activity and education-based mental health awareness programme targeting young people aged 6-16 who are experiencing, or are at risk of, developing mental illness. The programme is delivered by The Department of Sport and Physical Activity and The Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community, and to date has engaged nearly 1,000 young people weekly in primary schools, secondary schools and community groups.

Tackling the Blues offers a range of interactive and engaging activities, to recruit young people who then participate in tailored educational and peer-led activities to tackle experiences of conditions associated with mental illness. Weekly physical activity and classroom-based sessions include competitive and non-competitive activities which have been associated with positive behaviour change amongst those experiencing mental illness. The project has involved extensive consultation with young people and education workers who act as project collaborators, help recruit participants and deliver peer mentor workshops.

Some of our student volunteers have shared their experiences about volunteering on the programme, and how the knowledge and skills they gained from doing so have allowed them to develop personally and professionally, and in some case helping them secure employment in the sporting industry. Read here our student profiles.

“All our young carers have appeared to thoroughly enjoy the Tackling the Blues sessions. The sessions have been fun, creative and inclusive. The benefit of the Tackling the Blues sessions and team-building activities have given young carers the confidence to access wider opportunities in the community.”

Young Carer Project Worker

Key Findings

To monitor and evaluate the impact of the programme, weekly tasks, questionnaires and focus groups have been used to understand the mental health of the children and young people taking part.

Findings so far include:

  • Increases in self-confidence, self-esteem and reductions in anxiety
  • Enhanced emotional literacy helped them to better manage their mental health and relationships with others
  • Tackling the Blues has improved children and young people’s self-evaluation, co-operation and emotional intelligence
  • The supportive relationships established between mentors and participants were key to maintaining engagement, supporting mental health learning and building trust
  • Autonomy and decision making skills were developed by providing choice and ownership of the activities delivered

For more information about how the programme is impacting the children and young people involved visit our Research and Impact page.

Working with our partners

Tackling the Blues is proud to engage with many partners locally and nationally to provide them with an opportunity to engage in the programme and other activities of benefit to them. These include:

  • Mental health awareness support for children and young people
  • Support for whole school approaches to mental health and wellbeing
  • Nationally and internationally recognised mental health qualifications
  • Scientific research activity designed to understand and improve the mental health of children, young people, school staff and carers
  • Resources, CPD and training opportunities supporting the mental health and wellbeing of educational professionals
  • Support with pupil premium contributions

“I would encourage other schools to take part in Tackling the Blues if they had the chance to do so. Our children have got to know other teachers and adults, responding to them in a different way through the more relaxed relationship they have with Tackling the Blues mentors. Tackling the Blues gets different things out of them than we would.”

Primary School Teacher, Litherland, Sefton

BBC Radio 5 Live interviews

Listen here to interviews from Tackling the Blues, conducted by BBC Radio 5 Live on World Mental Health Day, 10th October:

The work we are doing as part of Tackling the Blues has been featured on Radio City’s ‘Mental Health Monday’ Podcast, where each week, journalist Mick Coyle will explores a different aspect of mental wellbeing and look at what help is on offer for people who are suffering with various issues on the mental health spectrum. Listen to Professor Andy Smith talk about what we are doing to help combat mental illness, his segment begins at 17:00, available from Audioboom.

Tackling the Blues Awarded ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’

‘Tackling the Blues’ has been awarded the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’ Award at the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in London. The ‘THE Awards’ were presented at a ceremony hosted by actor Richard E Grant at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The annual awards recognise UK universities for exceptional teaching, research, student support, entrepreneurship, collaborations, and community outreach. Up against strong competition from universities across England and Wales, The Times Higher Education Awards panel said that TtB “has been selected as a national case exemplar” and has “in the view of educational and health professionals, made a positive contribution in this challenging area”. The judges also commented that it was “remarkable” that more than 95 per cent of participants have continued with the programme over 15 months.

Outstanding contribution to the local community winner

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