Supported by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association (via the PL/PFA Fund), Burnley Borough Council, East Lancashire CCG and five Burnley secondary schools, £442,000 will be injected into the project over the next three years.
With statistics showing that 50 per cent of mental health problems are established by the age of 14, the aim of the project is to offer sustained mental health support to young people in the town. The hope is that the work will also forge a lasting, positive change both in attitudes to mental health and outlooks for young people living with varying mental health conditions.
A mental health worker will be placed in post at Blessed Trinity RC College, Burnley High School, Shuttleworth College, Sir John Thursby Community College and Unity College. Each worker will offer one-to-one support to pupils, as well as facilitating group lessons focused on building resilience.
Neil Hart, chief executive officer of Burnley FC in the Community, said: “We wanted to put mental health at the top of our agenda for the season and so made the strategic decision to allocate 100% of the funds from our PL/PFA funding for 2018/19 into mental health provision.
“We are very proud of this revolutionary piece of work we’re carrying out with the collaborative support of the Premier League, PFA, Burnley Borough Council, East Lancashire CCG and with local schools.
“Some of the statistics around mental health are shocking. We want to be part of changing those prospects for our young people – it’s time to stop overlooking all these unsettling numbers and, instead, give them the help they clearly need.
“We hope that the service the pupils will receive from our mental health workers will change attitudes to this issue; for the good of our young people and our whole community.”
Councillor Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council, said: “Headteachers in Burnley schools told us that we have to do something to help improve the mental health of our young people. This project, which I am pleased to say will be part-funded by Burnley Council, will support young people to be more emotionally resilient.
“This, in turn, will set them up for greater success in school and later in life. I would like to thank Burnley FC in the Community for its contribution, alongside the NHS, in bringing this project forward.”
Mark Youlton, chief officer of East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Supporting the mental health of school age children is very important to us all. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop their resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, happy and healthy adults.
“Our partnership with Burnley FC in the Community is a great start and it will enable us to support local schools to help achieve this. While it is a step in the right direction, everyone needs to play their part to support children, including the community, Health, Local Government and voluntary sectors.”
Ruth England, headteacher at Shuttleworth College, said: “In a landscape where mental health issues are having a greater and greater impact on the lives of our young people, it is very exciting and heartening to be part of initiatives such as this.
“The opportunity to have a mental health worker in our school will greatly increase our capacity to better support young people in our communities. We are thrilled to be a part of it.”