An Edge Hill student is highlighting the profound impact of award-winning child mental health programme Tackling the Blues as it gets set to expand.
Summer Cunningham, a student mentor for the sport and arts-based mental health education programme, highlighted how her own contribution has made a difference to children’s lives as the programme expands into Greater Manchester.
As schools continue to respond to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of student mentors who support delivery of the programme will increase from 48 last academic year to more than 80 this year; more than 2,500 pupils have been reached to date.
Summer, a third-year student from Kettering, Northamptonshire, said:
“I remember one of the girls I worked with last year showed a 180 turnaround in self-confidence – she started out incredibly shy and unable to verbalise her answers to questions, to being loud and proud in herself, practically shouting the answers at us. When we had to leave she was so full of gratitude and cried us out the door; that’s when I really reflected and knew that we had made a difference.
“And to be taking part in the programme during the Covid-19 pandemic has really helped me too. I lost a lot of motivation last year so to be doing something useful like this made a huge difference to my own mental health.
“Tackling the Blues has also given me a unique experience to work with respected organisations, promoting mental health and wellbeing directly with children, most from deprived areas, to improve their outcomes. You can visibly see the development of literacy and emotional processing from week to week.”
Tackling the Blues – delivered in partnership between Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool – supports children and young people aged 6-16 who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing, mental illness.
Since its launch in 2015 a significant difference has already been made to many lives, with participating young people across the Liverpool City Region, Lancashire and now Greater Manchester displaying more confidence and less anxiety, with improved literacy and emotional intelligence skills.
Dr Helen O’Keeffe, from the Faculty of Education, and Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity, both lead on the project at Edge Hill.
“The Tackling the Blues project not only makes a vital difference to the children and families we work with who suffer from some of the poorest health and wellbeing in the country, it also makes an important contribution to the student experience, employability, knowledge exchange and research.
“We are delighted that we are in a position to continue to expand this vital work during the current academic year.”
Dr Emma Curd, Tackling the Blues coordinator for Tate Liverpool, vouched for the positive impact the programme also has on student mentors.
“Since meeting Summer in 2019, we have seen her confidence flourish and grow in the classroom. From taking on leadership roles to developing unique and creative activities for young people to engage with, Summer is now an experienced and assured mentor.
“She is particularly skillful in supporting the creation of a safe and creative environment for young people to talk about their feelings and emotions.”
Tackling the Blues is continuing to develop as a result of ongoing funding from the Office for Students, Research England and the Premier League.
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
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.
A performer who is training as a psychotherapist at Edge Hill is using her creative talents to encourage children and young people to open up about their mental health through the arts.
Olivia Izzo, 26, is currently studying an MSc in Psychotherapy and Counselling at Edge Hill following a career as a performer and actor. Since joining the University, Olivia has been appointed as a mentor for Tackling the Blues, Edge Hill’s mental health literacy programme for schools in partnership with Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool.
Tackling the Blues is a sport, physical activity, arts and education-based mental health literacy programme supporting children and young people aged 6 to 16 years who are experiencing, or at risk of developing, mental illness.
As a mentor, Olivia is hoping to use her creative flair to help children and young people to express their feelings through the arts.
Olivia, who is originally from South East London, said: “When I was younger, mental health was not a conversation in schools. As a result, we are finding more and more children who are reaching adolescence and are experiencing major mental health crises, because they are struggling and don’t know how to communicate their feelings.”
According to the Children’s Society, 10 per cent of children and young people aged 5 to 16 have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70 per cent of children and adolescents who experience problems with their mental health have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently young age.
Alongside its existing sports and physical activity programmes, Tackling the Blues recently welcomed Tate Liverpool to the partnership to establish a new arts strand to encourage young people to use art as a tool to explore, understand and increase their mental health literacy.
Olivia said: “Art therapy can help at any age but if we specifically focus on children and young people then it’s a really useful approach. For a child, being able to draw and create with me beside them provides them with so much more freedom.
Depending on the age, some children don’t have the language to explain how they’re feeling or tell me they are worried, but they might be able to draw a picture which resembles how they are feeling. Combining what they enjoy doing with something that might feel a bit uncomfortable is a really powerful approach.”
Having enjoyed a career on stage, Olivia explains how her desire to help others with their mental health stems from seeing others struggle to express their emotions and suffer as a consequence.
She said: “I’m fortunate that I’ve always been a very expressive person and open with my emotions and I know how this isn’t the case for everyone.
“Programmes like Tackling the Blues are so important to kick-start the conversation about mental health at an early age. The programme helps children to not just talk about it but allows them to recognise what their feelings are and process them.
“Now more than ever, it’s vital that we are setting the right example to children and young people by empowering them to have the tools in place to recognise and understand their emotions and know that it’s a sign of strength to talk about their feelings.”
Since its launch in 2015, Tackling the Blues has engaged over 1,000 young people across Merseyside and West Lancashire.
In 2020, the programme received a £527,000 funding award from the Office for Students and Research England in recognition of the vital impact it has on the student experience. The programme received the award for demonstrating the benefits it brings to students, graduate and external partners through involvement in knowledge exchange activities.
For more information and the latest news about Tackling the Blues follow us on Twitter.
Award-winning mental health programme Tackling the Blues has appointed six new recruits to grow activities at a time when mental health has never been more important.
Delivered by Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool, the programme promotes mental health in education through sports, physical activity and the arts.
Tackling the Blues is delivered by students and staff across Edge Hill’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity and Faculty of Education and, since its launch in 2015, has engaged with almost 1,000 young people across Merseyside and West Lancashire.
Funding for the new recruits follows on from a £527,000 funding award from the Office for Students and Research England earlier this year in recognition of the vital impact it has on the student experience. The programme received the award for demonstrating the benefits it brings to students, graduates and external partners through involvement in knowledge exchange activities.
Emily McCurrie has joined Edge Hill’s Faculty of Education as the Partnership Development and Engagement Manager and will spend the first two years of her post leading the operational activity of Tackling the Blues. Prior to joining the programme, Emily lived in Scotland for 18 years, where she studied health psychology and worked as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in the NHS.
Emily will focus on developing partnership engagement with schools and education providers to create opportunities for student employability, work experience and enrichment activities.
Tate Liverpool has appointed Dr Emma Curd and Phil McClure as Tackling the Blues Coordinators to oversee the development and delivery of the new arts strand and they will work to encourage young people to use art as a tool to explore, understand and aid their emotional health and wellbeing.
Emma is an artist, facilitator and researcher, who uses creative and participatory methods to create spaces for discussion, collaboration and co-production. During her career, she has facilitated workshops and learning programmes in galleries, museums, libraries and higher education institutions, while Phil was previously the Lead for Participation and Democracy at Halton Youth Provision, where he supported young people dealing with issues around substance abuse, hidden harm and emotional health and wellbeing. In addition to this, he led on LGBTQ+ youth work in the borough.
Everton in the Community has recruited James Ratcliffe as a new Tackling the Blues Coordinator to help develop the programme’s sports and physical activity strand. James previously completed his MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health at Edge Hill, where he gained experience as a lead mentor on Tackling the Blues.
Edge Hill has recruited two Research Assistants, Rachel Wilcock and Aston Monro, who will be responsible for measuring the impact of the programme on children and young people and will evaluate how student mentors benefit from knowledge exchange opportunities.
Rachel joins the team following three years in another Research Assistant role at Edge Hill, where she conducted programme evaluations for community-based programmes that address mental health and suicide concerns in the North West.
Aston has recently graduated from Edge Hill with an MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health, during which time he received a bursary from the UEFA Foundation to work alongside Tackling the Blues as a mentor and researcher.
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.
Prof Smith said: “It is fantastic to be expanding our team as we reach such a significant point in the programme’s journey.
“To date, Tackling the Blues has engaged with a thousand young people across Merseyside and West Lancashire with the aim to positively impact the lives and mental health of our communities. In such uncertain times for the world, we are looking forward to extending our reach and influence to help even more children and young people in the region to promote mental, physical and emotional literacy and improve their self-esteem and confidence, with the help of our student community.”
Michael Salla, Everton in the Community Director of Health and Sport, said: “Building on the success of the programme since its launch in 2015, this addition of high-quality staff will allow us to better address the increasing prevalence of poor mental health among children and young people. The programme has demonstrated significant improvements with increasing mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and increasing physical activity levels, which are all key areas and particularly during the current pandemic.”
Dr Deborah Riding, Programme Manager, Children & Young People at Tate Liverpool, said: “Working in partnership with Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community in this way gives us, collectively, an exciting opportunity to embed a new way for children and young people with their schools and communities to engage with mental health. More than ever, given the current situation, children and young people need opportunities to develop their confidence and resilience through creative and cultural activity, raising aspirations and positively impacting on their wellbeing. We hope the expansion of the project can make a significant difference in the lives of many children and young people across the North West.”
From January 2021, the Tackling the Blues team is excited to recommence its engagement activities with schools across the region. Click here to find out the latest news about Tackling the Blues.
A children’s mental health awareness campaign which saw pupils’ drawings of their Blues heroes take centre stage at a Goodison Park matchday has been shortlisted for a national award.
The ‘USM Supports Tackling the Blues’ campaign has been shortlisted in the ‘Integrated Content Campaign of the Year’ category in the 2020 UK Content Awards.
As part of USM’s wider marketing campaign #unlockthepotential, USM invited children from Linacre Primary School in Bootle to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience and enabled them to see their portraits of Everton first-team players replace all in-game player graphics at the Blues’ Premier League fixture with Newcastle United in January.
The children’s drawings appeared on stadium screens, in the matchday programme and across Everton’s official matchday social media and website output at the match. The images trended on social media and gained international media coverage with fans both at the stadium and online praising the children’s drawings and the partnership work between Everton and Edge Hill University on the ground-breaking Tackling the Blues programme.
Linacre Primary is one of a number of schools taking part in the ‘Tackling the Blues’ programme, delivered jointly by Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University, and funded by the Premier League.
The initiative aims to teach young people strategies for good mental and physical health, promote emotional literacy and improve self-esteem and confidence through a range of physical and class-based activities.
Drawing portraits is just one of the ways that children are encouraged to explore emotions, behaviours and practise peer support.
Club partner USM invited the Linacre pupils to Everton’s training ground, USM Finch Farm, for the initial drawing session – where they were surprised by Club captain Seamus Coleman, midfielders Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott, and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, who sat for their portraits in person and took part in a Q&A with the children on the themes of acceptance, self-esteem, diversity and respect.
Professor Andy Smith from Edge Hill University, who alongside Everton in the Community designs and delivers the Tackling the Blues Programme, said: “To see this awareness-raising activity, informed by our research, recognised with a shortlisting for a national award is excellent news following the additional funding we have received from the Office for Students and Research England to expand the Tackling the Blues project over the next two years, and helps strengthen our work in this important area.
“Raising awareness of the importance of children’s mental health, and ensuring that children have access to the right tools they need to promote positive mental health is even more important now given the impacts of Covid-19 on school-based mental health, and the impact it is having on the inequalities which characterise the families and communities in which children live.”
The ‘USM Supports Tackling the Blues’ campaign will compete against Flow Creative & The Mental Health Foundation – Mental Health Awareness Week Campaign, Hill+Knowlton Strategies & Smart Energy GB – The Missing Piece, Impression & Harvey Water Softeners – Making Water Work Harder, International SOS – COVID-19 Insight and Intelligence Campaign and The Think Tank – Asendia 7 Destinations Campaign. The winner will be announced on 20 October 2020.
The ‘USM Tackling The Blues’ matchday activity has also been shortlisted for Best Fan Engagement Campaignat the 2020 Sport Business Awards, the winner of which is announced in December.
An Edge Hill and Everton FC mental
health partnership programme has been shortlisted in the 2020 Sports Business
the Blues, which aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 6-16
through sport, is in the running in the Best Fan Engagement category at the
The project which caught the judges’
eyes saw children from Linacre Primary School in Bootle create portraits of
Everton first team players which were then displayed as in-game player graphics
at one of the Blues’ Premier League fixtures in January, in the match-day
programme and across the team’s official social media and website.
The drawings trended on social media
and gained international media coverage with fans praising the children’s
drawings and the work of Tackling the Blues.
Smith, Tackling the Blues programme lead for Edge Hill University, said: “We are extremely pleased to hear the programme has
been shortlisted for an award.
“The feedback we received from the school pupils involved, and of course
fans, was excellent.
“We regularly encourage participants on Tackling the Blues to find
creative ways of expressing their thoughts and experiences of mental health,
and to explore their emotions and feelings in positive ways by engaging in peer
“The pictures and portraits drawn by the young people, supported so well
by the Everton players, really captured the imaginations of fans.
“The shortlisting is testimony to how academic research, and
longstanding partnerships between ourselves and Everton in the Community, can
be used to positively engage people in important matters such as mental health.”
Tackling the Blues
is delivered jointly by Edge Hill University and Everton FC’s official charity, Everton
in the Community (EitC), with support from club partner USM and funding from
the Premier League.
delivered with The Department of Sport and Physical Activity, aims to teach
young people strategies for good mental and physical health, promote emotional
literacy and improve self-esteem and confidence.
To date it has
engaged with nearly 1,000 young people weekly in primary schools, secondary
schools and community groups, and recently won a cash injection from The Office
for Students and Research England in recognition of the vital impact it has on
the Edge Hill student experience.
On this occasion, the
Bootle schoolchildren enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they visited
Everton’s USM Finch Farm training ground thanks to a surprise visit by club
captain Seamus Coleman, midfielders Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott and
goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
The players sat for
their portraits and took part in a Q&A on themes including acceptance,
self-esteem, diversity and respect.
Everton FC and EitC have been nominated
in five categories in total, more than any other football finalist in this
year’s awards, with recognition for community impact, sports diversity and the professional
Other nominees include Cricket World
Cup 2019, golf’s The Open Championship, Premiership Rugby, Jockey Club
Services, The Royal British Legion and a small number of other Premier League
The winners of the 2020 Sports Business
Awards will be announced at a ceremony in London in December.
Edge Hill’s interdisciplinary MSc
in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health, delivered in association
with Everton in the Community, offers a unique opportunity to undertake
cutting-edge, impact-focused and policy-relevant teaching and research related
to health and wellbeing in sport, physical activity and related sectors.
A sport, art and education-based mental health awareness programme developed by Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community has been awarded half a million pounds in recognition of the vital impact it has on the student experience.
The £527k funding boost will ensure the University can expand its successful collaborations with Everton in the Community and further grow arts and wellbeing activities with Tate Liverpool.
The Office for Students and Research England unveiled the successful bids today (20th April) and Edge Hill has received the award for demonstrating the benefits the Tackling the Blues project brings to students, graduates and external partners through involvement in knowledge exchange activities.
Dr Helen O’Keeffe, Associate Dean for Edge Hill’s Faculty of Education, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Office for Students and Research England sees our work as an example of best practice across the higher education sector.
“The Tackling the Blues project not only makes an important contribution to the student experience, employability, knowledge exchange and research, but it also makes a vital difference to the children and families we work with in the Liverpool city region that suffer from some of the poorest health and wellbeing in the country.”
The award-winning Tackling the Blues targets young people aged 6-16 who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing, mental illness, and has already made a significant difference to people’s lives with participants feeling more confident and less anxious, and showing improved literacy and emotional intelligence skills.
Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill, said: “We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Everton in the Community, the charitable arm of Everton Football Club, and more recently with Tate Liverpool, and both partners are hugely committed to this programme.
“The funding will allow us to expand our activities with them and grow the arts and wellbeing activities. Crucially, it will enable us to increase students’ engagement in our research and knowledge exchange activities and provide them with unique opportunities to work with our partners to positively impact the lives of our communities.”
Everton in the Community’s Tackling the Blues Coordinator Jack Mulineux said: “To be one of the recipients of this funding is great news and it will allow us to continue to work with our long-standing partner Edge Hill University but also create a new and exciting opportunity to work with Tate Liverpool.
“Not only will this enhance our reach but it will also contribute to the expansion of our provision which will continue to be aligned with improving health-related outcomes using innovative practices such as the arts to promote wellbeing.”
Director of Tate Liverpool Helen Legg added: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to deepen our partnership with Edge Hill University and extend our work on children’s mental health. It’s a transformative opportunity and we are confident that art and creative activity can play a valuable role in improving an individual’s mental health and build their emotional intelligence.”
Since its launch in 2013, Tackling the Blues has engaged more than 1,000 young people weekly in primary schools, secondary schools and community groups.
Edge Hill University staff joined partners Everton in the Community to welcome The Duke of Cambridge to Liverpool as he visited one of the charity’s mental health campaigns.
His Royal Highness Prince William spent an afternoon at The People’s Hub to find out more about the Heads Up campaign, which is run by the football club’s official charity Everton in the Community (EitC), and how it uses its influence to support fans and address key social issues affecting the local community.
He also visited three EitC projects which each provide crucial mental health support to different sectors of society – Stand Together, a programme which tackles social isolation among those aged 70+ living in Merseyside; Everton Veterans Hub, a project which uses sport to engage and support ex-service personnel; and Tackling the Blues, a sport and education-based programme delivered by Edge hill University, targeting children and young people experiencing mental health challenges.
Professor Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, said: “It was a privilege and a pleasure to be present at The People’s Hub today for the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to our longstanding partner, Everton in the Community. Our commitment to promoting good mental health, supporting those with mental illness and improving mental health literacy through sport lies also at the heart of the Duke’s Heads Up Campaign.
“We were delighted to provide His Royal Highness with an insight into Tackling the Blues and how our research-informed activities have helped to shape the delivery of mental health work in our partner schools and how this has benefited their pupils, staff and wider communities.”
The Duke of Cambridge received a civic reception from the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mark Blundell DL; the High Sheriff of Merseyside David Steer QC DL and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Anna Rothery, before being introduced to EitC Chief Executive Officer Richard Kenyon who served as the host to His Royal Highness during his time with the charity.
HRH Prince William was then given an insight into Everton in the Community’s ground-breaking and award-winning work in the field of mental health over the last 12 years as well as an update on the charity’s plans for The People’s Place, a purpose built mental health facility in the shadows of Goodison Park, by Everton Football Club Chief Executive Officer Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale MBE and Everton in the Community Director of Health and Sport Michael Salla.
His Royal Highness then had the opportunity to witness some of EitC’s mental health programmes in action and meet the participants who benefit from these programmes as well as the staff behind them. He was joined in the Tackling the Blues session by Everton first team stars Jordan Pickford and Theo Walcott, Edge Hill University’s Professor Andy Smith, and observed children from Springwell Park Community Primary School taking part in a game of emoji bingo where they were asked to describe recent emotions using emojis to encourage conversations around feelings and emotions.
Everton in the Community Chief Executive Richard Kenyon said: “It has been a great honour to welcome The Duke of Cambridge to Liverpool 4 and to provide him with the opportunity to visit some of our mental health programmes and meet with the participants who benefit from them who were so enthusiastic to tell him about the positive difference we have helped make to their lives.
“We have been delivering mental health provision for our local community for more than 10 years and have a long-standing commitment to supporting positive mental health and wellbeing, together with partners such as Edge Hill University, and are continually evolving our programmes to ensure we are providing the support that’s needed right across our society. It gives us a great deal of pride that our work has attracted the attention of His Royal Highness and it is real testament to the unwavering dedication, hard work and commitment of our staff, volunteers and participants.”
The Duke then sat down with the children and spoke with them about their enjoyment of the programme and their understanding of mental health, and encouraged the importance of communication and opening up to friends and family.
Funded by the Premier League and delivered
collaboratively with Edge Hill University, Tackling the Blues uses tools such
as emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activity to help increase self -esteem
and reduce anxiety in children while helping them build positive relationships
with their peers and external agencies.
His Royal Highness was then introduced to Everton first team stars Seamus Coleman, Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin by England number one goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Theo Walcott, and spoke with the five footballers at length about the Heads Up campaign and the importance of encouraging more people – particularly men – to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, and feel able to support friends or family through difficult times.
After an in-depth discussion about the roles that footballers can play in tackling the stigma around mental health, Club captain Seamus Coleman introduced The Duke to participants from Everton Veterans Hub as they joined them for a relaxed round-table chat about the programme, the impact it has had on their lives and their lives in the forces.
Launched in 2015, Everton Veterans Hub supports ex-service personnel with the transition from military life to civilian life and the interlinked problems that often arise. The programme offers engagement tools, support mechanisms and evidence-based behavioural change methods to improve the lives of veterans and their families.
For the final part of his visit with Everton in the Community, His Royal Highness met with participants from the charity’s Stand Together programme to take part in a football reminiscence session and the memories that old memorabilia can evoke. The Duke was joined in the session by first team duo Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as well as Everton Football Club Players’ Life President Graeme Sharp as they joined the elderly participants in sharing memories of old football boots and programmes.
Also funded by the Premier League, Stand Together aims to tackle social isolation among the elder members of community and offers its participants bespoke activities such as sessions on the history of city, interactive music and dance performance, home safety advice and most importantly, the opportunity to interact with like-minded people and make new friends.
Heads Up is a season-long campaign
spearheaded by The Duke of Cambridge which uses the influence and popularity of
football to show the nation that mental health is just as important as physical
health. It supports the important work which is already taking place across the
UK to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and strives to raise awareness,
spark conversation and signpost to support.
Everton Chief Executive, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale said: “It was an immense privilege to welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge to Everton. I was delighted to show him the innovative, life-changing and often life-saving work Everton in the Community has been delivering in the field of mental health for over ten years.
“Everton in the Community staff work tirelessly and go
above and beyond to tackle the stigmas associated with mental health issues to
help people in our community every day.
“I was incredibly proud to stand alongside the Everton in the
Community Trustees, staff and participants to showcase the wonderful and
ground-breaking work they undertake and share best practice in supporting
people with mental health problems with His Royal Highness, including our plans for a new purpose-built, drop-in mental health
facility, to be called The People’s Place, to further assist those
living with mental health issues in North Liverpool.”
Everton goalkeeper and England international Jordan
Pickford added: “As footballers we have a responsibility to do what we can to
help tackle the stigma around mental health and Heads Up is a fantastic
campaign to encourage football fans – especially men – to open up the
conversation and let them know that it’s not ok to be ok. Myself and my
teammates are strong supporters of Everton in the Community’s fantastic work
across Liverpool and we love to get involved at any given opportunity – for the
charity to have the chance to show His Royal Highness exactly what it does to
make a difference to the lives of others is a great honour and everyone
involved should be very proud.”
In February, football is coming together to kick off the biggest ever conversation around mental health, in support of the Heads Up campaign.
The Heads Up Weekends, which are taking place on the 8-9 and 15-16 February, will see every football team from across the Premier League, English Football League, The Barclays Women’s Super League and The FA Women’s Championship dedicate their matches to Heads Up. The weekends will highlight the power of talking as a way to support one another and normalise what can often be thought of as a difficult subject, with activity planned at fixtures across the men’s and women’s football calendar.
Children’s drawings to replace player matchday photographs at Goodison Park as USM training ground supports Edge Hill partnership programme Tackling the Blues
Portraits of Everton FC players created by schoolchildren will be shown on stadium screens for the Blues’ home game against Newcastle tomorrow, Tuesday 21 January – helping to raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health among young people.
USM invited Year 4 pupils from Linacre Primary School in Bootle to visit
Everton’s USM Finch Farm training ground to take part in a drawing session,
with their player portraits set to make a very special appearance at Goodison
Park on Tuesday night.
will replace the in-match player graphics for the Premier League encounter with
Newcastle on the stadium screens for the team announcement and substitutions.
They will also be used in the matchday programme and, away from the ground, the
images will be visible across Everton’s official matchday social media and
The activity is part of USM’s Unlock the Potential campaign and in support of Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University’s award-winning Tackling the Blues programme.
Linacre Primary School is one of a number of schools participating in Tackling the Blues, which aims to teach young people strategies for good mental and physical health, promote emotional literacy and improve self-esteem and confidence. The programme has engaged with more than 850 young people aged six to 16 years old in the last three years.
Delivered collaboratively by Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University, and funded by The Premier League, Tackling the Blues is co-designed and developed with young people, student mentors and education workers who act as project collaborators, to help recruit participants and deliver peer mentor workshops.
Professor Andy Smith, from Edge Hill University, said: “We are delighted that the benefits of the activities which we have designed with young people who engage in the Tackling the Blues programme are being recognised in this way.
“Helping young people to understand the importance of their mental health, how and where to seek help, and to provide activities which impact their lives positively is an important part of our longstanding partnership with Everton in the Community.
“We are especially grateful to the players, USM and everyone at the football club, for their continued support of Tackling the Blues and our wider research on using sport for mental health promotion.”
is just one of the ways that participants are encouraged to explore emotions,
behaviours and reactions and gain an understanding of the things we can all do
to support each other.
During the drawing session, the Linacre pupils were surprised by a visit from first team stars Fabian Delph, Theo Walcott, Seamus Coleman and Jonas Lossl – who came to sit for their portraits in person.
then tried their hand at their own drawings before taking part in a Q&A
with the children on topics including acceptance, self-esteem, diversity and
A video of the feel-good visit is being shared by the Club on Blue Monday (January 20) – supposedly ‘the most depressing day of the year.’
The pupils have
also been invited to the game against Newcastle to see their drawings come to
life across Goodison Park.
Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton in the Community added: “In England, between 9 and 13% of 5-15-year-olds reported having a mental health disorder, with older young people reporting higher rates of mental illness. Suicide is the biggest killer of schoolchildren each year, with 200 on average taking their own lives.
“It is fantastic to see USM showing their support for Tackling the Blues. Programmes like this are vital in providing young people with tools and strategies that they can use as they get older to maintain good mental and physical health.
“It is also about removing stigma around mental health and making it clear that it is important to talk about mental health at any age, to ask for help and support when you need it, and ensure that young people know where to find that support.
“The player portraits are a great way of sharing that message and I am sure that the children will be delighted when they see their drawings on the big screen.”
Graduating with a merit, 31-year-old Eddie Owen hasn’t
let a turbulent 18 months after being diagnosed with epilepsy deter him from
helping other young people succeed.
“It’s been an extremely unsettling time for me and my family,” said Eddie from Stockport. “I had a whole host of changes to my life, including losing my driving licence and not being able to play the sport I love. The MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health course provided me with a brand-new start and a career I have always dreamed of doing.”
He helps young people who aren’t currently in education
or employment to get training, work or opportunities to study and gain
“It’s a brilliant job as it allows me to see these young people grow in confidence and, with a little help, find something that they’re interested in.
“Sometimes they just need someone to open the door and show them what’s out there!”
Eddie got involved with Tackling the Blues – a sport, physical activity and education-based mental health awareness programme jointly run by Everton in the Community and Edge Hill University – through his course tutors and mental-health advocates Professor Andy Smith and Jon Jones. He later wrote his thesis around the programme and the importance of mentors who deliver the programme in schools.
“I knew straight away that this was a brilliant opportunity to work with and learn from one of the leading community charities in the country; Everton in the Community is a brilliant organisation and I enjoyed every minute, working with our partner schools around the North West.”
Eddie has a degree in Design and previously worked as a
personal trainer, but he never knew returning to Edge Hill to take his Masters would
change his career forever.
“It’s truly an incredible feeling to be graduating. It’s been a really challenging year but, without doubt, applying for the course has been the best decision I have ever made.”
If you, like Eddie, have a passion for helping others through sport, explore the courses we have to offer at edgehill.ac.uk/sport.