Our HeaducationUK crusade

About HeaductionUK

HeaducationUK is the national crusade for compulsory mental health education in the UK.

The Shaw Mind Foundation, along with key allies from the charity sector, mental health activists and clinical psychologists, has launched HeaducationUK. Our objective is to implement and deliver compulsory mental health education (MHE) in every primary and secondary school in the UK.

Huge public and professional support for compulsory mental health education in schools

Our petition calling on the government to make mental health education compulsory in schools reached over 100,000 signatures by the deadline of 3rd May, showing overwhelming public and professional support.

This is the first time in British history that a mental health charity has reached over 100,000 signatures on the Government Petition website.

At 100,000 signatures, petitions are automatically considered for debate in Parliament. The HeaducationUK petition originally had until the 6th July to secure the signatures, but due to the snap General Election announced in April, the deadline for all government petitions was brought forward to 3rd May. Despite a timeline cut short by two months, the petition was still able to gather enough signatures showing that this is an issue the general public cares deeply about.

As well as the overwhelming amount of signatures on our petition, our campaign commissioned two polls and found;

• 80% of British parents believe protecting their children’s mental health is a top concern and 79% of British parents believe that children should be taught more about mental health in schools. (YouGov)
• 92% of teenagers aged 14 to 18 think mental health should be discussed in lessons at school, and 65% said they wouldn’t be able to identify if they were experiencing mental health problem because they don’t know enough about it. (Censuswide)
• Plus, over 30 of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists and psychiatrists specialising in children’s mental health also wrote an open letter calling on the government to make mental health education compulsory (Offer mental health classes, schools told [The Times]).

How we will make a change?

HeaducationUK’s objective of getting compulsory MHE in UK schools, will:

• Help prevent the development of mental ill health in children and teenagers
• Decrease the vast numbers of children and young people suffering from mental illness
• Rid our society of the ‘sticking plaster’ approach that the UK government have long adopted when trying to deal with mental illness in children and young people
• Educate our children and future generations for a happier and healthier adulthood
• Take a huge physical and financial strain off the NHS, CAMHS, social services and teachers
• Create huge advantages for the UK economy and industry for decades to come
• Normalise mental health issues as an accepted human condition so that children will feel confident enough to open up to each other and those who care for them
• Enable a more proactive society in addressing mental health issues, giving children the ability and confidence to speak out during their childhood and indeed into adulthood, as they go into the workplace and have their own families

Why mental health education needs to be compulsory

The mental health of our children and young people has reached a crisis point. Mental health problems are happening right now in our schools and affecting too many of our children.

• 850,000 UK children aged 5–16 have mental health problems, which equates to around 3 children in every classroom

• 1 in 5 children will experience a mental health difficulty before the age of 11

• The number of young people going to A&E with a psychiatric condition has risen by 106% since 2009.

How MHE is currently taught in the UK

The UK national curriculum puts a lot of emphasis on teaching our children about how our bodies work, physical illnesses, and how exercise and nutrition can keep us healthy. These are taught in mandatory subjects such as PE (physical education) and biology.

But what are we doing to teach them about mental health and the possibility of mental illness?

Currently, mental health education is taught inconsistently in the UK, and only in secondary schools – despite 1 in 5 children experiencing a mental health difficulty before the age of 11.

Mental health education is delivered via the non-compulsory subject PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic), or sometimes during school assembly or drama lessons. As PSHE is a non-compulsory subject, this means that not all schools teach it, and that in turn means that mental health education isn’t always taught.

The team behind HeaducationUK believes that the system is failing our children by not providing the adequate education on mental health at an earlier age, and not within a framework which is compulsory. This means that mental health education is all too often overlooked or dropped altogether. Simply put, we aren’t equipping our children with the knowledge and skills to understand something that affects three children (between the ages of 5 – 16) in every UK classroom.

How we want MHE to be taught

We firmly believe that we should start educating our children on mental health before they head off to secondary school. It should be compulsory within both primary and secondary schools and be taught at an age appropriate level, depending on which key stage the pupils are in.

Mental health education in the UK needs urgent reform, or else the alarming numbers of children and young people suffering from mental health issues will continue to increase.

What compulsory mental health education will do
Compulsory mental health education in all schools will enable pupils of any age to develop the skill set, knowledge, understanding, language and ability to seek help, if required, for themselves, their friends and family.

Children will be able to identify when help is required, what types of help are available, and how to access it.

Having a platform to enable pupils to talk openly about mental health issues will help towards eliminating stigma and facilitate discussion on specific issues affecting children and young people’s mental health. For example, bullying and social media pressures often lead to high numbers of self-harm and suicide.

“Having worked as a mental health advisor in a further education college for the last 8 years, I want to express my support of your campaign to make mental health education compulsory in primary and secondary education. Mental health. Physical health. Health. All forms of health should be explained and explored in age appropriate ways throughout school years. No one is exempt, but a proactive versus reactive approach can reduce the risks and severity of long term mental health issues. This is a vital step in improving wellbeing for children, young people, and all individuals.” Eleanor Port-Burke, Cambridgeshire Expressive Arts and Counselling Centre

Generation after generation has been let down by the lack of education and understanding around mental health and positive mental health maintenance. Good mental health education lasts a lifetime.

Join over 100,000 people and over 30 of the UK's leading child psychologists and psychiatrists who are already supporting our HeaducationUK campaign.

You can still get involved!

Whilst our government petition ended on 3rd May 2017, you can still have your voice heard and receive regular updates about our campaign and ways in which you can get involved. Just complete the form below.

I am (please tick all relevant boxes);
A parent
A social worker
A teacher
A mental health professional
A specialist in emotional well-being
A young person (aged between 12 - 18)
The Shaw Mind Foundation would love to keep you up to date on our HeaducationUK campaign and our other campaigns. Please tick this box to opt in.
You can read our privacy policy here

What now?

The petition has now closed but despite the popular support and importance of this issue, there is a chance that the government will not consider our petition for debate and will use the new deadline and the dissolution of parliament as cover to bury this issue.

Our campaign has jumped through every hoop presented by the government, and still succeeded in showing wide support.

If the government fails to consider this issue for debate it will;

• Be taken as an indication by the mental health community that they do not really care about improving how mental health is taught, and laying the foundations of sound mental wellbeing for our children and future generations.

• Show a lack of understanding of how deeply mental health conditions affect society as a whole, and the fundamental changes we can make to society by teaching mental health properly from a young age. Mental health conditions put undue strain on the NHS and UK economy as a whole. They also lead to children living in extreme hardship and poverty, in situations where a parent suffers from a debilitating mental health condition.

• An indication to the education community that teachers and schools do not deserve the support and investment necessary to tackle mental health properly. This can only be achieved if mental health education is compulsory and the government commits to funding it properly. Responsibility should not lie solely with teachers and schools. They should be supported.

Considering the upcoming General Election, this is an opportunity for the government and all parties to show their support for the wellbeing of our children, and to include compulsory mental health education in their manifestos.

We see this as an opportunity for the UK to lead the world in recognising the importance of mental health, as we already recognise physical health.

Ways you can help

Donate to HeaducationUK
HeaducationUK is a national initiative led and wholly funded by global mental health charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation.
We receive no government support and we need your help.

Let us know why you think mental health education needs to be compulsory
We would love to know your views on why you think that mental health education (MHE) needs to be compulsory within all UK schools. Email us now.

Fundraise with Skeet for HeaducationUK
Skeet is the star of The Shaw Mind Foundation and he has lots of ideas for fundraising.

Our range of innovative and award winning Self-help and Inspirational books


All proceeds from our books sales help support our HeaducationUK campaign.
If you would like to see our full range of books

Our work in schools and the importance of delivering compulsory mental health education

Hope Virgo from The Shaw Mind Foundation visits The Henrietta Barnett school in London to give a talk about the HeaducationUK campaign. We also ask an existing emotional wellbeing specialist (Jackie Wilson from Kids Skills 4 life) about her role within schools and her thoughts on compulsory mental health education.

About us and our key allies

HeaducationUK is a national initiative led and wholly funded by global mental health charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation.


Set up by Adam Shaw, a philanthropist, author and ex-sufferer of OCD, anxiety and depression, and clinical psychologist Dr Lauren Callaghan…READ MORE

Find out more about our key allies below:

  • HealthUnlocked

    HealthUnlocked is a social network for health, offering a peer-to-peer support network of patients, caregivers and health advocates...

    View More
  • Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn

    We also have established mental health campaigners Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn as our allies for the crusade....

    View More
  • YoungMinds

    YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people...

    View More

We also work alongside several clinical psychologists and psychiatrists:

  • Dr Lauren Callaghan

    Lauren has over 12 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist treating both adults and adolescents...

    View More
  • Dr Az Hakeem

    Dr Az Hakeem offers assessments and treatment as a psychiatrist or psychotherapist or provides a combined approach...

    View More
  • Dr Sadegh Nashat

    Dr Nashat is a chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Family

    View More

Latest news

Why parents aren’t best placed to teach their children about mental health

12 May 2017

During our HeaducationUK petition campaign – Make Mental Health Education Compulsory in UK Schools – a few select individuals asked us why we had to ‘ram it down our kids’ throats in school’ and why parents couldn’t teach their kids about mental health at home instead. Well, I thought it might be useful for me to share one of our responses with you here, so you can understand why we are campaigning for mental health education to take place in school and not in the home. Click here to read more.

Read more

Mental health education petition hits 100,000 target

11 May 2017

A petition calling on the government to make mental health education compulsory in schools has hit 100,000 signatures and campaigners are now calling for a Parliamentary debate to be held on the issue. The petition on the UK government petitions website reached more than 103,000 signatures despite the cut off deadline being brought forward to May 3 because of the snap General Election. This article is taken from SecEd. Click here to read more.

Read more

I suffered with anxiety and OCD from the age of around five

10 May 2017

Blog written by Adam Shaw, the founder of mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation in Nottinghamshire. These are his views which he is sharing with ITV Central. I suffered with anxiety and OCD from the age of around five. It was a painful, lonely experience. I wish I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, to help him get through it. Perhaps then I wouldn’t have found myself on a bridge, many years later, on the brink of suicide. This article is from ITV News. Click here to read more.

Read more

Contact us