Mentally Healthy Schools is a free website for UK primary and secondary schools and further education settings, offering school staff information, advice and practical resources to better understand and promote pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
One in 10 primary school children aged five to 10 has an identifiable mental health condition – that’s around three children in every class. Among this age group, boys are twice as likely as girls to have a mental health problem.
The move to secondary school sees an increase in the number of children struggling, with one in seven children aged 11 to 16 having an identifiable mental health condition. However, during these teen years, boys and girls are equally likely to be affected.
While more than half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, the factors that can put a child more at risk of developing a mental health problem can often be identified much earlier. If a child who is at risk isn’t given early support, they may go on to develop a mental health problem.
Early intervention is key to giving young people the best start in life. This website aims to give primary and secondary school staff the information and practical resources they need to best support pupils.
We are not expecting school staff to become mental health experts. If you are concerned about a child’s safety or wellbeing please follow your usual safeguarding procedures and consult with your designated safeguarding lead or local authority. Please also see our tips on where to seek further advice.
Mentally Healthy Schools was launched in 2018 by the Duchess of Cambridge as a legacy of the Heads Together campaign. The website is a collaboration between three of the UK’s leading child mental health and education charities.
What the site covers
The site is divided into five sections:
- Getting started: a guidance section for teachers and leaders to understand mental health and its place in school and college settings.
- Resource library: quality-assured lesson plans, assembly plans and PSHE resources to support and assist in teaching and learning about general mental health and wellbeing as well as specific topics.
- Risks and protective factors: a look at the issues which can undermine a child’s mental health, including bullying, family breakdown and more. Includes information on identifying pupils who may be at risk and practical resources to help support and build resilience.
- Mental health needs: focuses on the specific types of mental health difficulties children may struggle with. It helps school and college settings understand their role and what they can do to promote pupils' recovery.
- Whole-school approach: helps school leaders develop the wider support across the school to help children, families and staff thrive.
All of the resources are free, and all have been quality-assured by mental health experts at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. The website signposts a range of resources from sector leading organisations such as lesson plans, classroom activities, assembly plans, information and guidance. These are all housed in our resource library, where you can filter by age, location, topic and more to find the resource you need.
The majority of resources signposted in the Mentally Healthy Schools library are produced by external organisations, and Mentally Healthy Schools or the Anna Freud Centre do not own the intellectual property rights. This is why, on most occasions, the resource page will link to the resource owner’s website.
The resources are free but be mindful to adhere to copyright guidance from the individual resource authors. Find out more about using resources featured on the website in our terms and conditions. Paid interventions and resources will have limited licencing and more information can be found on the individual pages. If you have any queries about copyright, please contact the resource author directly.
Before delivering a session on mental health, you may find it helpful to read our simple guidance page written by one of our clinicians, Dr Rina Bajaj.
There are a small number of evaluated, mostly licensed programmes that carry a fee, these have strong evidence of benefiting children – either through promoting children’s social and emotional skills, or preventing, or helping children recover from poor mental health. The whole school programmes and small group programmes featured on the website are well researched and rated on a system based on the level of evidence. Find out more about levels of evidence we've used on the site.
A message from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
The site’s content and resources have passed through a rigorous quality assurance* process involving clinical and educational experts from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families to make sure they are:
- Clear, accurate and convey a positive message about mental health.
- Age and education phase appropriate.
- Clinically safe.
- Informed by research or evidence-based (paid)
- Suitable for all children.
- Up to date and/or relevant.
- Suitable for use in education settings
- Encourages safe and supportive learning
- Linked to educational objectives (where appropriate)
Academic references have not been included in the text to keep the information accessible. Most key references underpinning the information can be found in the Centre for Mental Health’s ‘Missed Opportunities’ report, which helped inform the need for, and initial development of, the site. There are more examples of evidence and research which inform the site’s content on the understanding the evidence page.
*Despite the rigorous quality assurance process for the resources, content and third-party services featured on the site, we cannot take responsibility for recommendations, links to other websites, resources or content on third party sites.
Meet the team
Cait Cooper is the Deputy Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Cait joined the Anna Freud Centre in 2019; in her previous post she was a member of a Senior Leadership team specialising in Inclusion and Safeguarding. Cait has vast teaching experience and a strong understanding of the current education landscape; she is passionate about providing schools with the knowledge and skills necessary to support children and young people’s Mental Health and wellbeing.
Dr Rina Bajaj
Rina is a Counselling Psychologist who has been working within the field of mental health since 2004. Rina has a diverse experience of working with children, adolescents and adults from a range of backgrounds. She has worked within the NHS, statutory organisations, the corporate world and the voluntary sector.
Dr Cyra Neave
Dr Neave is a chartered Clinical Psychologist registered with the British Psychological Society and the Health Professions Council. Cyra has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS for over 13 years specialising in work with children and adolescents. Cyra specialises in working in schools and has spent many years working across both Primary and Secondary schools in London, providing them with a range of therapeutic support, consultation and training.
Tell us what you think
We are continually working to improve and develop the content on this website. We’d really like to hear from you on what you think works, doesn’t work, and if there are any content gaps you’ve spotted. Please take a couple of minutes to fill in our quick feedback form.