Aaron Lennon and Ben Mee helped launch Burnley FC in the Community’s Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project at Shuttleworth College in Padiham recently.
The Clarets duo are ambassadors of the new project, which has already placed seven Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP) into five Burnley secondary schools and two Padiham secondary schools.
The borough-wide initiative has been implemented in response to the increasing number of cases arising in schools of pupils suffering from mental health issues and will be delivered for a minimum of three years.
With one in 10 children now living with a diagnosable mental health disorder, the hope is that the one-to-one support will offer early intervention for pupils and also increase awareness of mental health amongst children and the whole community in Burnley.
Lennon and Mee met with numerous pupils from Shuttleworth College before sitting in a presentation explaining the aims and impact of the project.
Though only a month into operation, 96 young people have already received support for their mental wellbeing.
The Burnley stars then joined in activities with groups of pupils that aim to encourage young people to talk about their mental health and open up the conversation in everyday life.
Lennon, who spoke himself on his own history of mental health issues, said: "I think it’s great. It gives the kids the opportunity to speak to someone, to have someone in the schools now that they can go and talk to and feel comfortable with. I think it’s going to really benefit.
"It’s ok to go and speak to someone and get help if they’re feeling a bit low. It’s alright not to feel great every day. Now, they have people in the schools who can help them."
Paul France, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Burnley FC in the Community, added: "It’s vitally important that we encourage our young people to open up about mental health.
"To be open and honest is the first step in making a road to recovery and feeling better.
"We all have mental health – it’s about maintaining an open conversation about it. We have already seen the impact of the project; the schools are already reporting back that the work of the PWPs is changing and saving the lives of young people in our town."
The Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project is supported by the Premier League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, Burnley Borough Council, East Lancashire CCG and all the schools involved.