Guidance for use

Who is stem4?

stem4 is a charity that promotes positive mental health in teenagers and those who support them including their families and carers, education professionals, as well as school nurses and GPs through the provision of mental health education, resilience strategies and early intervention.

This is primarily provided digitally through our innovative education programme, pioneering mental health apps, clinically-informed website and mental health conferences that contribute to helping young people and those around them flourish.

Our mission is to foster the development of good mental health in teenagers through enhancing early understanding and awareness in individuals, their families, schools and the community, promoting shared early detection and signposting towards prompt action and intervention.

Our aim is to :

  • Raise early awareness and highlight the importance of early intervention in teenage mental health issues – taking steps to help stem problems at an early stage
  • Educate through interactive conferences for schools, digital tools such as the Head Ed programme and through our comprehensive website
  • Encourage debate and shared information through a programme of conferences targeting students, parents/carers, education professionals, school nurses and GPs
  • Provide self-help through our mental health app library, website and booklets

What is included in the Head Ed programme?

This resource can be used to deliver lessons on key mental health issues that fall under the PSHE (Personal, Social Health and Economic Education) curriculum. Each lesson has:

  1. A Teacher Pack which is used for preparation of the lesson. It includes:
    • Learning objectives
    • Learning outcomes
    • Sensitivities for teachers to be aware of when presenting the topic as the content may be a trigger point for some students
    • A listing of the downloadable resources which teachers can use during the lesson
  2. A PowerPoint presentation which is used to drive the lesson
  3. A list of keywords and explanations of the words which will be heard in the videos
  4. Worksheets for class tasks
  5. Discussion points for the class
  6. Formative and summative assessments
  7. Videos of students discussing each topic
  8. Core learning videos on the subject
    • Please note: All videos in the programme are not designed to be downloadable. Instead, they can be viewed on each module webpage

Why use this resource?

The more young people are able to identify the early signs of mental ill-health in themselves, the more likely it is that there will be a positive outcome for them. In addition, peers can often identify mental health issues amongst their friends before adults do. The earlier that young people can seek support, the sooner they may recover. Teaching pupils about mental health can play a vital role in keeping pupils safe.

Although a developmental approach to the PSHE curriculum is recommended, each stem4 Head Ed video and accompanying guidance form a discrete session. During all the sessions, there should be an emphasis on enabling young people to develop the skills, knowledge, understanding, language and confidence to seek further help for themselves or their peers. It is suggested that teachers watch each digital video themselves before presenting it to a class to check suitability. For more guidance on making mental health part of a planned PSHE education programme, see the PSHE Association website: Programme of Study for PSHE Education.

Managing disclosure

In any class of 30 students, it is likely that a student may identify with the mental health issues raised in the module. To make sure that these young people are identified and supported, please speak to your pastoral team when planning the session. It is also good practice to let students know in advance that the sessions are being planned so that they can indicate any issues they may have prior to the session.

Setting ground rules at the start of each session will help to ensure the discussion remains respectful and distanced from whatever personal experiences students may have. If a student discloses any personal concerns which could mean they find the session difficult, please give them the opportunity to either speak with you, the school/college counsellor or another member of the pastoral team on a one-to-one basis prior to the session content. They may be happy to proceed if there is an exit strategy, or it may be appropriate to give them the opportunity to opt-out. In our experience of delivering mental health education, approximately 1 in every 30 students that we have met has disclosed concerns about a possible underlying mental health issue following our sessions. These individual students have sought further support from their schools/colleges, families and health providers.


All lessons should be prepared on the basis that in every class, at least one young person in the room may be affected by the issues raised. On that basis, lessons can be planned in the following way:

  • Ensure that you are prepared to follow your school/college’s safeguarding policy and procedures for managing pupil disclosures
  • Give notice to pastoral staff about your intention to cover the content of this lesson
  • Discuss the lesson content with your school/college’s pastoral team and ask them to discuss it with any pupils who are accessing support for related issues
  • Signposts for further support may be flagged up before, during and after the main content of the lesson
  • Ensure that you have prepared internal sign-posting for students to access additional support such as a school/college counsellor or pastoral staff plus details of any support available locally in your area
  • Ensure that sign-posts for accessing further support are given to the students at the start of the lesson, during the lesson content and at the end of the lesson
  • Avoid using images or language that may be distressing or trigger vulnerable students
  • When using the videos, please view them prior to sharing with your class
  • Give your students notice of the lesson content
  • Set up ground rules for the lesson, including the option to pass and that there should be no personal stories or accounts during the lesson. This is briefed in the very first video which covers safeguarding

For further information on establishing a safe learning environment, please see the PSHE Association ‘Teacher guidance: teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing’.

To summarise:

1. Signposts

For each mental health issue, signposts are given for students to access further information and support. These include trusted adults in their school/college such as a school nurse and their own General Practitioner (GP). We ask schools/colleges to ensure that they make young people aware of any internal support that is available such as school/college-based counselling services or pastoral care.

2. Establishing ground rules

Before starting lessons, it is important to establish ground rules for the classroom. Suggested ground rules are detailed in ‘Teacher guidance: teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing’ PSHE Association guidance funded by the Department for Education.

They include:

  • Openness
  • Keep the conversation in the room
  • Non-judgemental approach
  • Right to pass
  • Make no assumptions
  • Listen to others
  • Use correct language
  • Ask questions
  • Seek help and advice

3. Involving parents and carers

Students can be asked to share their learning with their families as a homework assignment between sessions. A possible homework assignment for all the sessions is for students to find out how they can go about making an appointment with their own General Practitioner (GP) should they ever want to in the future. In addition, they may explore how to prepare for an appointment by making a list of the key points they wish to share with their GP. This can be done using apps and they may wish to ask a friend for support. Young people are far more likely to seek further support for their mental health concerns following a lesson on mental health than prior to that. It is therefore important to inform parents and carers about the topics that are being covered and how they can access appropriate support when needed.

4. Who is the stem4 Head Ed programme for?

The stem4 Head Ed programme is for UK secondary school students aged 11 years and over. Due to the sensitive nature of the content, stem4 has created separate modules for age 11+ and 14+ year groups. The content of these modules are progressive and it is therefore recommended that age 14+ modules are not taught to age 13+ students.

5. Summative assessments

Each module is accompanied by succinct learning intentions and expected outcomes. For all the sessions, students can self-assess using the provided ‘I can’ statements with a measure of confidence that the students select themselves. Teachers may also use the results from these self-assessments as evidence towards meeting the assessment criteria. However, we suggest that due to the sensitive nature of the lesson content that assessment is kept informal.

6. Screen brightness

Please be aware that the level of brightness of the screen on a whiteboard can be too bright for some students. We, therefore, ask you to check that the brightness is not on the highest setting.

7. School policy guidance

If you need any guidance with writing school policies, take a look at the templates we have available (scroll down to Schools). If you don’t find what you’re looking for please feel free to email us at with your request and we’ll see how we can assist you.