MP praise for school mental health initiative “The Blues Programme”

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02 Apr 2019

Margaret Greenwood MP visited Woodchurch High School and Upton Hall School recently to meet with students who are taking part in the Blues Programme, a national scheme run by the charity Action for Children.

The Blues Programme supports young people aged 13-18 with early signs of depression and anxiety. The six-week course is run in school by trained Action for Children 'Blues' specialists who use Cognitive Behaviour Therapy methods to help young people better understand their negative feelings.

During the meeting, Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood spoke to students about how the Blues Programme has benefited them. The students shared how the programme has helped them to reduce their anxiety, build resilience and made them feel less isolated.

According to Action for Children’s research, a third of 15 to 18-year olds suffer from mental health issues. The charity reports that following involvement in the Blues Programme, 70% of pupils surveyed showed an improvement in their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The Blues Programme was introduced in a select number of schools in Wirral in October. 179 young people in the borough have now completed the programme, with 66.5% of them reporting reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The programme is fully funded by Royal Mail and comes at no cost to schools.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“It was great to meet with students from Woodchurch High School and Upton Hall School to learn more about their involvement in Action for Children’s Blues Programme.

“The increase in the number of young people experiencing mental health issues is very worrying and highlights the need for initiatives like the Blues Programme to help tackle the problem.

“I was impressed that the students I met with all felt that they had benefited from the Blues Programme. One girl said that the programme gave her the skills to better deal with challenging situations, while others spoke about how they felt more able to be open about their mental health.

“It is vital that young people who are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression have access to support.

“I would encourage young people across Wirral to look out for their own wellbeing and to seek support early if they are struggling.”

Nicola Griffiths, Assistant Head at Upton Hall School, said:

"The Blues Programme has really helped us to promote positive mental health amongst our pupils, and forms an integral part of our support structure for those who require it.

“The proactive nature of the Blues Programme makes it a unique project by placing the emphasis on the prevention of poor mental health as opposed to a cure for it.

“The session facilitators have developed an excellent rapport with our pupils, which has been pivotal in making the programme a huge success.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Blues Programme over the next two years to ensure the needs of our young people are met."

Rachel Ward, Service Coordinator for the Blues Programme at Action for Children, said:

“The Blues Programme reflects the current need of young people across the Wirral. Teenagers are increasingly concerned about their futures as they become more aware of the political environment around them.

“Many are dealing with the intense pressure of school work, others are experiencing problems at home. Add in navigating an increasingly complex 24/7 world with constant stimulation from social media, and things often become too much for young people to handle.

“Getting help early can help stop some mental health problems in their tracks, but without quicker investment and targeted support many young people across the Wirral will continue to struggle. If they don’t get the help they need early we will see even higher levels of mental health problems as they reach adulthood.

“We continue to build important working relationships with a number of schools on the Wirral and we look forward to making new partnerships to ensure we support as many teenagers as possible.”

To find out more information about the Blues Programme, visit the Action for Children website: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/what-we-do/children-young-people/blues-programme/


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