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Burnley footballers back mental health support in schools

mental health wellbeing project

Published by Laura Pratt at 6:19am 13th March 2019 (Updated 6:22am 13th March 2019)

A Burnley footballer who struggled with his own mental health is backing a project to get support for school kids.

The School's Mental Wellbeing Project's launched at seven schools in East Lancashire - offering a mental health worker for students to use if they're struggling.

The three year programme, at five schools in Burnley and two in Pendle, has been funded and supported by a wide range of partners.

It's being led by the football team's charity - Burnley FC in the Community.

Winger Aaron Lennon was detained under the Mental Health Act in 2017, after police were called to reports of a man in crisis at the side of a busy motorway.

He was taken to hospital and then went on to receive care for what his former team Everton described as a "stress-related illness".

Almost two years on, Aaron says he's come a long way:

"You always look after your physical self and that's all I knew. So when I had my difficult time, I wasn't sure what to do and who to speak to.

"I had a lot of help and a lot of good people around me, in hospital and with the therapists I was using, so it's definitely something you can come back from.

"I've spoken to a few players since and they want to know what I went through, so I told them what I thought and would advise".

He believes early intervention is the best thing to tackle and prevent mental health issues from getting that far.

schools mental wellbeing project 1

Aaron and fellow team mate Ben Mee were at the launch of the project, at Shuttleworth College - one of the schools taking part.

One of the seven schools involved is Blessed Trinity RC College.

Headteacher Richard Varey tells 2BR they're already seeing a huge positive impact:

"Unfortunately it's not unusual to see children present in school with very complex issues relating to mental health.

"Orla who works in our school - a child came to see her on Monday morning and she's seen them by 9.30am. It's a truly inspirational project that's changing children's lives.

"It means we can get the right kind of intervention for those children in much quicker, and we can already see that these workers are changing children's lives".

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