Jo Phillips, Laura Meek, Sarah Jordan

Mental Health and Well-being in Primary Education


A Practical Guide and Resource



Mental health is much more than the absence of mental illness. It also means having self-belief and the resilience to cope with stress and change. In order to teach such skills, teachers and other staff must equip themselves and their workplaces with the procedures, understanding and confidence required to monitor mental health, share strategies effectively and act appropriately if issues arise.

Mental Health and Wellbeing in Primary Education puts all the information you need at your fingertips – with detailed guidance on creating a culture of wellbeing, overviews of key educational challenges and transitions, and early warning signs to look out for. The authors also explore how a range of common mental health difficulties that can affect learning (including anxiety, low mood, attachment difficulties, eating disorders and ADHD) are typically identified, diagnosed and managed.

Supported by a wealth of ready-made lesson plans, frames and templates, Mental Health and Wellbeing in Primary Education offers a practical, up-to-date look at how teachers and other education professionals can monitor, encourage and teach mental wellbeing among primary age children.

Written by a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist and a teacher with a special interest in mental health and emotional wellbeing, this book emphasises the need for effective and innovative communication and collaboration across the health and education sectors, for the benefit of all children. Wherever you or the children you support are on their wellbeing journey, this book can help.


About the Authors

Dr Laura Meek is a Consultant Child Psychiatrist. She has an interest in supporting teachers and empowering young people to take charge of their mental health. Laura has written articles for the Huffington Post, Juno Magazine and the Metro and is the author of Be Your Own Superhero (Penguin, 2019). She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two sons.


Joanna Phillips is a Primary Teacher and aspiring Children’s Author, who was previously a doctor in the NHS. She is currently a Learning Mentor and Nurture Teaching Assistant, supporting children with a variety of needs. She writes online about reading, books and mental health and she has an interest in how stories can be used to support children with their emotional wellbeing. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two children.


Dr Sarah Jordan is a mother and highly specialised Clinical Psychologist currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. She has worked with children and families for 18 years. She specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and interventions for children on the autism spectrum.

Details and Contents

ISBN: 9781912755929

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: May 2020

Table of Contents




Part 1: Putting mental health and wellbeing first

  1. Identification, responses and interventions
  2. Ready to learn
  3. A whole school approach


Part 2: Wellbeing

  1. Wellbeing for all
  2. Building Emotional Intelligence
  3. Managing and mastering screens


Part 3: Mental health presentations and conditions

  1. Anxiety, Panic and OCD
  2. Low mood
  3. Behaviours that challenge, anger and defiance
  4. Attachment difficulties and Trauma
  5. Autism Spectrum Condition
  6. Difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and tics
  7. Onset of puberty and gender identity
  8. Feeding and eating disorders


Part 4: Transitions

  1. Introduction to transitions
  2. Transition into Early Years settings
  3. Daily transitions
  4. Year-to-year transitions
  5. Transition to Secondary school


Part 5: Resources

  1. Lesson plans and resources
  2. Glossary
  3. Further reading and guidance



Mental health has received significant attention in recent years, due to campaigning and high-profile individuals sharing their experiences. As part of this destigmatisation, it has been argued that normalising mental health issues through lessons in schools could foster a society better able to deal with issues of mental ill-health.

In response, from 2020 health education will be compulsory in all schools in England. In primary schools, a focus will be on teaching pupils that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Children are expected to understand that there is a normal range of emotions, that these can differ from person to person, and that mental illness is a common experience. They should also gain an understanding of how to recognise major triggers and seek support.


  1. Steve Lloyd – Headteacher Sauncey Wood Primary School

    Mental Health and Wellbeing in Primary Education: A practical guide and
    resource is a truly remarkable book and collection of resources for all people
    involved in the education of children; not just teachers. This book will provide you
    with the practical support you need to improve the mental health and wellbeing
    of your pupils, prevent minor problems from escalating into more serious longterm
    issues and intervene earlier, providing a cultural change for a whole-school
    approach … If this book can reach even half of the schools across the UK, I know
    that there will be a positive impact on teacher practice, and this will result in an
    immensely positive impression on our children.

  2. Juliette Powell

    It is unusual to find such a wealth of invaluable information in one book, written to such a high standard and backed by scientific and educational research and experience. A timely book, covering a broad range of mental health topics, some more common than others, ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ gives readers specific, detailed information, including symptoms, traits and challenges, along with wide-ranging resources, strategies and advice to explore when working with children. Meaningful links to other, related topics and sources of further support are also incredibly helpful. The book is also written in such a way that it is easy to go back and dip into different sections repeatedly, as needs arise and change and to refresh one’s memory.
    At a time when anxiety and poor mental health in children is on the increase and is causing widespread concern, I can highly recommend this book to anyone who works with children and young people and is passionate about doing their best for them. Whether new to the role or highly experienced, ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in Primary Education’ is definitely not to be missed.

    Lyndon Evans, Executive Principal of Aspire Academies Trust.

  3. Juliette Powell

    ‘A thoroughly researched, practical guide which gives a great overview for any primary school staff who want to better understand mental and emotional health.’
    Natasha Devon, campaigner and author of ‘Yes You Can: Ace Your Exams Without Losing Your Mind’.

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