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How Burnley are helping pupils' mental wellbeing

30 Jul 2020

Clarets have been working with young people in seven schools as Premier League joins landmark "Mentally Healthy Football" declaration

The Premier League's "Mentally Healthy Football" declaration, launched jointly with the United Kingdom's football family earlier this week, is a commitment to making mental health a key priority at all levels of the game.

From local communities through to players at the very top of their profession, the Premier League and its clubs are offering support.

A key aspect to this is the way clubs engage with local people through mental-health programmes.

Reaching out 

Since February 2019, Burnley FC in the Community's Schools' Mental Wellbeing Project, supported by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association, has been helping young people with their mental wellbeing in seven schools.

It helps by identifying students most in need and providing a full-time Burnley psychological wellbeing practitioner to offer them support in both one-to-one and group settings.

This also increases awareness of mental health at school, educating parents, students and teachers.

Richard Varey, headteacher of Blessed Trinity RC College, explained the benefits of Burnley's project during Heads Up in February, a campaign which used the power of football to raise awareness around mental health.

"One of the problems that we found is that when children presented us with mental health problems, we're teachers, and we're good at talking about 1066 and quadratic equations, but children have got really complex issues now," said Richard.

Project impact

After the first 12 months of Burnley's programme, up to February 2020, 86 per cent of the 572 students receiving support said they felt less anxious, while 81 per cent improved their self-esteem.

Project ambassador and Burnley captain Bee Mee went to Blessed Trinity to see how the programme has made a difference.

And Harrison explained how the Schools' Mental Wellbeing Project benefits students like him.

"It's made them feel that it's not uncommon to feel down or to feel anxious," he said. "It's also made people feel a lot more comfortable to speak about it in our school."

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