Tackling the Blues launches new bitesize mental health programme

Tackling the Blues, an award-winning sport and arts-based education programme, has launched a series of online bitesize lessons to help teachers support children and young people’s mental health during lockdown.

Developed in partnership by Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool, the new five-week programme BLUES has responded to the pupil mental health and wellbeing concerns faced by schools in the partnership.

BLUES stands for:  

  • Boosting your mood 
  • Loneliness 
  • Uncertaintyand dealing with it 
  • Emotions: anxiety and frustration 
  • Self-care and checking in

The programme is underpinned by the New Economics Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing, with Edge Hill University students designing the programme in their roles as Tackling the Blues student mentors. The 48 student mentors have developed content to help schools across Merseyside and West Lancashire with the aim to connect to whole school approaches to mental health and wellbeing.

Professor of Sport and Physical Activity, Andy Smith, and Dr Helen O’Keeffe, from the Faculty of Education, both lead on the project at Edge Hill. They said: “This past year has been an incredibly testing time for teachers and pupils across the country. That’s why it’s more important than ever that teachers are empowered with the tools to support better mental health and wellbeing for their pupils.

“We can’t wait to return to delivering the programme in person and are aiming to be in a position, restrictions permitting, to deliver the full Tackling the Blues programme following the Easter break.”

Lathom Park Primary School in Ormskirk is one of the schools enrolled on the BLUES programme. Teacher Evan Fraser said the programme has “provided an insight into how important it is to focus on emotional literacy”, and for their pupils to understand their own mental health and wellbeing.

Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton in the Community said: “Our Tackling the Blues programme has continued to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing landscape since its launch in 2015 and in particular the last 12-months. The introduction of the online BLUES Bitesize programme is the latest addition to the programme and something that will also be utilised to meet the mental health and wellbeing of needs of children nationally and internationally.

Supported by funding from the Office for Students, Research England and the Premier League Charitable Fund, Tackling the Blues uses a student focussed model to provide innovate ways in engaging students in knowledge exchange to improve their knowledge, understanding and experiences of mental health in education in local communities. 

Dr Deborah Riding, Programme Manager, Children & Young People at Tate Liverpool said: “Being able to deliver this activity online to schools during lockdown, using arts and sport to help get positive mental health messages out to young people, has been a significant achievement.

“The online sessions the partners have developed together has helped give schools flexibility at a time when they needed it and is beneficial to them and the pupils as an on-going resource. It has also provided a great opportunity for the student mentors to develop their digital skills which will be a huge asset to them when seeking employment.”

For more information about Tackling the Blues, visit its dedicated Twitter page @TacklingBlues.