HEALTH bosses in Bolton have come up with an innovative new way of treating mental illness — a snakes and ladders-style board game called Upsy Downsy.

The game, for up to six players, involves patients moving around a board and collecting “pick-up points”, “thinking points” and “habit cards”.

The game, described by creators as a “fun way to engage with your mental health”, raises questions about how mental health can be improved and even involves participants creating action plans to deal with bad habits.

Upsy Downsy, which is not to be confused with the 1960s multi-coloured toy and story book range of the same name, is run by Bolton Community Volunteer Service and NHS Bolton.

Sarah Lever, who hosts the workshops in which people play the game, said: “Mental health is a major issue as it affects everyone.

“Upsy Downsy is about finding our own answers and making our own minds up about our mental health.

“Filling out the action plan forms doesn’t have to be anything difficult — it could be something like turning your back on alcohol.”

Social workers follow up on ideas raised in the game six weeks later by sending out reminder postcards and messages of encouragement.

Upsy Downsy, which is played by people of all ages, has been used all over Bolton, from resident associations to community centres, workplaces and primary schools.

It was created by Portfolio, a Bolton design agency who describe themselves on their website as “skilled, creative, driven, down-to-earth and individual to boot”.

Anyone interested in taking part in the game should contact Farzana Patel on 01204 546040 or e-mail farzana@bolton