On World Mental Health Day, the schools’ involved in Burnley FC in the Community’s Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project will be raising awareness of the issue of mental health in young people.
One student benefitting from the initiative is Beth from West Craven High School in Barnoldswick. Currently in year 11 and with the prospect of college on the horizon, Beth’s struggle with anxiety and depression were affecting her time at school.
Experiencing panic attacks, Beth would often miss lessons and was unable to attend school on a full-time basis last year. At such a crucial stage, this had an impact on her education and caused worry for her family and teachers.
Since March 2019, Beth has been meeting with Katy Westwell, a full time Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner placed in the school by Burnley FC in the Community through the charity’s Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project. Since her appointment, Katy has worked closely with Beth, offering one-to-one support sessions, she has been there to talk to and help make changes to have a positive impact on her schooling.
Beth said: “I have really benefitted from working with Katy as I have been able to discuss my worries and anxieties about school and home with her. She always takes the time to listen and support where she can. She’s supported me in lessons that I have found difficult to attend in the past and has spoken to members of staff to ensure adequate provision was made for me.
“We’ve worked together on developing strategies to support me with my anxiety and depression and she’s helped me when I’ve been having a panic attack. These strategies have helped me to attend school on a full-time basis, something I was unable to do last year. Had I not received the help I needed I would not be able to stay in lessons and some days would not be able to attend school at all.
“My highlight of working with Katy has been her determination in getting me through my bad days. She takes the time to talk to me and my mum to ensure that my needs are being met as well as ensuring that my teachers are aware of my difficulties.
“I would definitely say to young people that should they need to, have the confidence to speak to an adult. Anxiety and depression should not be seen as a weakness and help needs to be accessible for all.”
Katy said: “I started supporting Beth in March when I look back it was very rare if she completed a full week in school and would often arrive after 11am, this was due to not sleeping and having regular panic attacks in the morning and throughout her school day.
“I now see a completely different young lady, Beth hasn’t had a panic attack in school since May, she attends school every day and puts 100% into every lesson. She has opened up to me about her struggles with anxiety and depression and together we have put strategies in place to reduce and manage how she is feeling. Teachers have noticed a massive change in her wellbeing and say she now walks into the classroom with her head high and a smile and isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek support when needed. I’m really proud of the strength and courage Beth has shown throughout this journey.”
BFCitC’s three-year funded, Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project, is supported by the Premier League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, Burnley Borough Council and East Lancashire CCG, and aims to support young people with their mental wellbeing.
Since March 2019, the schools involved have reported seeing a significant improvement in students engaged. Within a six-week period between March to April 2019, 176 students were supported, with 914 hours of support delivered. 15.69% of students expressed an improvement in their mood, there was a 7.84% decrease in self-harm and 9.8% said they were having fewer negative thoughts.