Stay In Play has been designed by mental health professionals and delivered by young rugby players and cheerleaders. The effect has been dramatic.
The workshop was developed between St. Helens rugby academy, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Trust and Oliver Brennan Training Ltd. It is designed to teach young people the skills to stay well whilst they are well!
But as well as the course design, it is the impact of the young presenters that is contributing to the sessions enormous success in the Merseyside area.
Academy team skipper Mike Weldon, player Evan Bullen and cheerleader Melissa Yigit underwent the 2 day course to deliver the programme and after a slow start their progress has been breath taking resulting in thumbs up responses in more than 90% of schools in the area.
From February to June 2017 Stay in Play was introduced to more than two thousand children aged between 10 and 16 years of age in St. Helens.
As well as the government’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing, the course introduces the Wheel of Resilience to help children to learn as many as 15 exercises designed to build positive mental wellbeing.
Oliver Brennan, the course designer said, “we knew we had the basis of an interesting course for children and young people, but since the Mike, Evan and Melissa started to present on the course it has been astonishing.
“The children and young people immediately connect with our trainers because, not only are they just a few years older than the audience, but the trainers also share their own experiences of anxiety and depression and how they try to cope.
“This has a dramatic impact and you can often hear a pin drop. But more importantly, the young people can empathise with the trainers and this also has a great impact on smashing the stigma of mental health in young people.
Saints mental health ambassador, Eddie Cunningham said, ‘this course has been brilliant and we are doing great work here at this club and within schools throughout St.Helens.’
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Photo : Mike Weldon, Melissa Yigit and Evan Bullen