CLARETS stars Aaron Lennon and Ben Mee took centre stage – at the launch of a new mental health project for schools.

The Burnley FC players were at Shuttleworth College to help launch the £442,000 School’s Mental Well-Being Project which has been set up by the club’s charity arm Burnley FC in the Community.

England international Aaron said as soon he was told about the project he wanted to be involved.

Speaking about his own mental health issues, he said: “Had something like this been available when I was at school I might have had some idea of how to deal with my feelings.”

Rolled out across seven schools in January, the scheme is being supported by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association, Burnley Borough Council, and the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Deputy chief executive at Burnley FC in the Community Paul France said: “One in ten children have a diagnosable mental health disorder and in 2015 suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys and girls between five and 19.”

As part of the project, which is aiming to help normalise mental health among school children, the charity has placed a psychological wellbeing practitioner in five secondary schools in Burnley and two in Pendle, including Blessed Trinity RC College, Burnley High School, Shuttleworth College, Sir John Thursby Community College and Unity College.

Mr France added: “When I found out that the number one health priority in Burnley was mental health in 11 to 16 year olds, I thought, we’re Burnley FC and we need to do something about this.

“We’d like to think other clubs will get involved and might roll out a similar projects in schools up and down the country.”

The mental health workers will be available for students at the schools for the next three years, after which, researchers will carry out an evaluation of the scheme’s success.

Lennon, whose own well-documented battle with depression came to a head in 2017, said: “Having someone there to speak to who is removed and away from the work or school environment is the best thing. I found it difficult to speak out about my problems, but hopefully, if youngsters can see that footballers can and are speaking out then it can encourage them to do them same.”