Project PEDHSC25

Empower Evaluation: evaluating project aiming to improve the mental health of young people

The University of Hertfordshire is working with Watford FC Sports & Education Trust to evaluate Empower, a 24-week project that aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 9-12 through the use of physical activity,


Up to 1 in 8 children in Hertfordshire have a clinically diagnosable mental health issue. There has been an increase in the number of young people who are currently in employment, school and colleges who need support with mental health and wellbeing, and so this project aims to equip young people (alongside teachers, parents and sports coaches) with the skills and knowledge needed to develop healthy and lasting coping strategies. The aim of Empower is to improve young people’s wellbeing by helping them to manage their emotions and understanding their triggers, increasing participant’s resilience and protective factors and offering a further support network for these young people.

Expected outcomes for young people participating on the project:

  • Improved mental wellbeing
  • Improved social support networks
  • Demonstrating healthier lifestyle choices

Project aims

Research questions:

  • How does Empower support children and families?
  • What are the enablers and barriers to engagement and retention?
  • How is Empower being implemented?

Project activity 

  • Evidence review
  • Secondary analysis of monitoring data collected by Empower
  • Interviews and focus groups with children and young people, parents/carers, Empower staff and referral agencies.

Next steps

A project report will soon be released. 

By working collaboratively and responsively this project will inform the development of future services as well as contributing to the wider evidence base.

Who is involved

Principal investigator: Dr Louca-Mai Brady

Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care (CRIPACC), University of team:

  • Dr Han Newman, University of Hertfordshire 
  • Prof. Kathryn Almack, University of Hertfordshire 

Contact the team

Dr Louca-Mai Brady, CRIPACC Senior Research Fellow