Only a third of young people who need access to mental health support actually get the support they need. There aren’t enough resources and it’s vital that schools are equipped to meet the needs of their pupils and students, to prevent mental health issues worsening.

Schools which are set up to support the most vulnerable groups of pupils and students and those who have an embedded culture of positive mental health are supporting the mental health of everyone in the school and this will have a positive impact on teaching and learning.

Mental health awareness raising events

Mental health is something that needs to be talked about, not just in a tokenistic fashion but as an ongoing conversation. Teaching about mental health in schools boosts wellbeing, raises awareness, and reduces any stigma surrounding mental health.

Increased conversation around mental health supports those pupils and students who might already be struggling with mental health issues as it helps them feel they are not alone, that others have struggles too and that there are people who can help, people to talk to.

Mental health awareness raising events could be designed as whole school events or integrated as part of other events your school is already doing, such as transition days or school fairs where pupils could run an information stand. You may want to run a mental health INSET day to launch your approach to supporting mental health.

You could run special assemblies focusing on mental health, for example, how to reduce exam stress and have wellbeing displays and mental health posters up in different areas of school.

Mental health awareness events can be promoted during national and international events or mental health campaigns that often have free resources. These events can be important for launching or promoting any ongoing work you are doing to develop whole school mental health and wellbeing.

Dates for your diary

There are some keys dates throughout the year when you could tie in your work on raising awareness of mental health:

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10th October this year. There is a range of activities you can run on world mental health day for staff or students.

Mental health day is a great opportunity to do something fun – the charity Young Minds asks people to wear yellow to take part in the day – and promote conversations around children and young people's mental health. We are big fans of Hello Yellow!

World Mental Health Day #hellowyellow display

Children’s Mental Health Week

Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week is a great time to get more involved with activities that increase awareness of mental health. Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 will run from 6th-12th February. We have put together this guide on planning for Children’s Mental Health week.

Now and Beyond Festival of Mental Health

During children's mental health week  Now and Beyond, the UK’s only mental health and wellbeing festival for schools runs on the 8th of February, 2023. This is a great way to get your school involved in a national mental health event with hundreds of other schools. Find out how you can get your school involved in Now and Beyond Festival here.

Mental Health Awareness Day

Also called Time to Talk Day, Mental Health Awareness Day is an annual event run by the charity, Mind, and will take place on 2nd February 2023. In the words of Mind, ‘We all have mental health. By talking about it we can support ourselves and others’(1).

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted every year by the Mental Health Foundation and will run from 15th May to 21th May 2023. The week is based around a different theme each year - This year's theme is anxiety; other recent themes have been nature, kindness, and body image with the aim of getting as many people as possible to have conversations about mental health and the everyday things that can affect it.

Examples of activities for mental health awareness week

The Worth-it team has put together some easy activities you can try during mental health week (or any other time), for example, using gratitude jars in your classroom and practising undercover kindness – head over to our mental health week activities blog to find out more.

A recommended approach is to support pupil mental health during transitions and life changes (2). A really valuable time to launch your mental health awareness activities is at the start of a new academic year. This supports pupils and students who might be new to the school – for example year 7s entering secondary school – and helps promote your school as a supportive and open community where children and young people can talk about any worries and concerns right from the start, helping to add to their sense of belonging and reducing isolation and loneliness.

For staff as well as students it’s good to know that a school prioritises mental health – teachers with good mental health can better support students and take less time off with stress-related illness.

It’s vital that the practice of mental health activities is consistent, not tokenistic and it helps to build these in as part of a whole school approach to mental health

Staff Training and Development to Support Pupil Mental Health

Universal mental health interventions can be effectively delivered by teachers but providing effective CPD to ensure staff feel able to teach and share strategies for mental health is critical to ensure it is effective (3). Key to this is investing in teacher training and continuing professional development, to ensure teachers have the knowledge and skills they need to effectively support their students' mental health and wellbeing.

Teachers play a vital role in supporting young people's wellbeing through modelling interactions that support mental health. But, In order to effectively support their students, teachers need to feel confident in their abilities to support pupils mental health strategies.

A staff INSET day that builds confidence, raises awareness and shares mental health strategies may be a foundational mental health activity that can equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to enable them to develop learning experiences that support young people’s social, emotional, behavioural and academic competencies essential for mental health. Staff and teacher training can be a great way to launch wider work developing whole school mental health.

Why should schools teach about mental health?

The number of children and young people experiencing emotional disorders and common mental health problems, particularly anxiety and depression, is increasing. Day-to-day stress can have a negative impact on mental health – we’re already seeing the devastating impact that the COVID pandemic has had on young people who were unable to go to school and spend time with their peers. This is all compounded by the lack of capacity in mental health services to support children and young people.

Mental health lessons 

Mental health lessons can be given to raise awareness about different mental health issues, to let students know where they can find support and encourage them to seek support for their mental health sooner. It is important that any lessons that teach young people about mental health problems are balanced with teaching them strategies for positive mental health and wellbeing. We need to teach children and young people how to look after their mental health, just as we encourage them to look after their physical health. 

Mental health lessons can be delivered during mental health week or more importantly on an ongoing basis as part of your RSE and PSHE curriculum 

You could also arrange for organisations like us to come into school to deliver practical workshops or lessons that promote wellbeing activities to whole year groups where appropriate. 

Teaching wellbeing strategies

Developing wellbeing as part of a whole school approach to positive mental health is fundamental to providing early prevention for mental health problems. Promoting wellbeing and giving children and young people tools and strategies to look after their own wellbeing helps them look after their mental health, boosting self-esteem, confidence and reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. 

Promoting targeted support and early intervention

Preventing mental health problems at an earlier stage should be a key priority for everyone who works with children and young people. Schools are ideally placed to provide targeted support, to help build resilience and promote positive mental health and wellbeing in their pupils and students, as they see them every day.

Early interventions include peer-to-peer support, coaching, and running workshops to help students recognise their strengths and develop their wellbeing and resilience. The most effective way to support the prevention of mental health problems is to develop a whole school approach to mental health.

Curriculum for Wellbeing

Bringing mental health activities together in a wellbeing curriculum makes it easier for teachers to deliver the lessons and saves people from reinventing the wheel year after year.

Building a culture and ethos of positive mental health in your school will benefit the whole school community, staff and students alike, reducing absence and improving teaching and learning.

Free Wellbeing Activities and Resources 

Download our free Wellbeing Activity Booklet and find out how to share 6 practical wellbeing activities with pupils all based on positive psychology.

Be among the first to receive our other free wellbeing activities and resources by heading to Facebook and joining our active community where you’ll meet like-minded professionals, have the opportunity to share experiences, ideas for school wellbeing displays, and discuss mental health activities that work for different schools. 

If you’d like a FREE mental health wall poster – for classrooms, corridors, assembly halls, staff rooms, etc, – sign up here

If you’d like to 20 use evidence-based mental health activities with the children and young people you work with, you might also be interested in accessing our wellbeing resource toolkit which is now available for individuals as well as staff teams!


  2. NICE Guidelines
  3. Early Intervention Foundation

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