Tackling the Blues

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To mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we caught up with Edge Hill University to hear about their work with Everton in Community on their Tackling the Blues project.


Tackling the Blues is a sport and education-based programme targeting young people aged 6-16 who are experiencing, or are at risk of, developing mental health problems. The programme is run by Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University and funded by the Premier League. The programme is co-designed and developed with young people, student mentors and education workers who act as project collaborators, help recruit participants and deliver peer mentor workshops.

They use emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activities to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety in children while helping them build positive relationships with their peers and external agencies.

Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, commented: “We launched TtB in response to the very significant mental health problems facing young people. Eight in ten are not accessing mental health services, others have to wait nine months to access support.”

Key Findings

Tackling the Blues ()

The programme delivers 14 weekly physical activity and classroom-based sessions and engages with over 300 young people in primary schools, secondary schools and community groups. To measure and evaluate the impact of the programme, the university conducts research based on findings from weekly tasks, questionnaires, interviews and focus groups to understand the mental health of the children and young people taking part. The research also includes teachers, head teachers and other educational professionals to help develop whole school approaches to mental health and professional development opportunities.

The programme's impact includes:

  • Increases in self-confidence, self-esteem and reductions in anxiety;
  • Supportive relationships have been established between mentors and participants, helping to maintain engagement, support mental health learning and build trust;
  • Autonomy and decision-making skills were developed by providing children and young people with choice and ownership of the activities delivered.

More details are available here.

The university delivers a master’s degree in partnership with Everton in the Community and provides the opportunity for students to get involved and volunteer. Jack Mullineux a former student was involved in the programme and says this helped him secure employment.

“Experience gained with Everton in the Community has made sure that I developed important skills which I can use in my field of work as a Community Inclusion Officer.”

For more information on the project, please click here.

If you have a case study which highlights how you've positively engaged with your local area, please get in touch with aburgess@sportandrecreation.org.uk.

Great mental health case studies like this would be great entries for our Community Sport and Recreation Awards which are now open for entries GrassrootsAwards.