Free resources to develop mental health literacy for secondary schools and colleges

BrainWaves has developed a unique series of evidence-based lessons to support mental health literacy for secondary year students. It is a multi-year mental health initiative and is free for any school to access. The lessons are designed to improve students’ mental health and wellbeing.

The Key Stage 5 lessons for Year 12 students are available now and can be accessed via our dedicated schools portal:, where you can also find all our teaching resources and support for teachers. A range of lessons for KS3 and 4 will be available from January 2024.

Educational experts and researchers have helped design these lessons, basing them on topics resonating with young people and drawing on in depth focus groups and research.

Real-world scenarios and videos are used to present the most up-to-date science, as well as practical strategies to help young people cope better with the challenges of modern teenage life. Each BrainWaves lesson challenges students to think critically about a range of mental health issues. The relationship between their own thinking and real-life data is examined, helping them to think independently about how they can reduce any risk to themselves.


Our educational approach

The goal of the BrainWaves curriculum is to provide a programme of lessons that are evidence-based, engaging and empowering for students. We aim to give young people more agency in learning about and managing their mental health, by creating optimism about change and their potential to flourish. The lessons support students in the development of:

A positive self-concept and self-awareness

Relationship and social and emotional skills

Resilience and persistence

An understanding of the relationship between mind and body

Ability to think beyond one’s own concerns and focus on and engage with others

Critical thinking and information literacy

The value of research

This lesson explains to students the importance of taking part in adolescent mental health studies and how their involvement with BrainWaves can help improve mental health for all teenagers.


The teenage brain

This lesson helps students understand the changes that take place in their brain and with their hormones during adolescence and how this affects their mental health.

Sleep and teenagers

This lesson explores how sleep pattern and hormones change for adolescents and the relationship between sleep and wellbeing. It provides practical tools to help teenagers get more sleep.

Having a conversation about mental health

This lesson gives students the confidence to start a conversation about mental health, as well as supporting and listening to their friends when they ask for help and advice.

Boosting your mood

This lesson explains the spiral trend of depression and shows students how to use behaviour change to deliberately boost their mood through activities they enjoy when feeling down.

Re-examining stress

This lesson captures what students have already learnt about stress management through their experiences with GCSE exams and bolsters their knowledge about relaxation techniques.

Finding out about mental health

This lesson encourages students to think critically about sources of mental health information, using case studies to help students evaluate the credibility of what they see and read online.

Teacher Resources

One of BrainWaves’ goals is to ensure teachers have the confidence and skills to teach lessons about mental health to teenagers. Our resources include:

  • Clear and accessible lesson plans and teacher notes
  • Scientific guides summarising the key science behind the strategies advocated
  • A series of webinars to help teachers understand the scientific background and content of the lessons. These webinars are useful for continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Guidance and advice on pedagogical issues, such as differentiation, questioning techniques and encouraging student discussion about sensitive issues.

School-based Interventions

A key element of the BrainWaves study is the trialling of school-based mental health interventions within our BrainWaves Research Schools and Colleges. Young people are invited to take part in a carefully monitored and analysed programme of mental health and wellbeing activities and learn about the value of research. Teachers are provided with in-depth training and support to help implement and manage the interventions. By taking part in the BrainWaves study, young people and schools can help shape the evidence-base behind these interventions and feedback into their future design in a very real way.

Get involved! If you’d like to find our more about becoming a BrainWaves Research School or College, please contact our team at