Unhelpful thoughts – KS3 and KS4 activities

Students learn examples of unhelpful thoughts and how to tackle them


  • KS3
  • KS4


  • PSHE
  • RSHE

What’s this for?

Developed with teachers and NHS approved, this short form time activity prompts students to identify examples of unhelpful thoughts and practise "reframing" them.

The PowerPoint activities are supported by an animated film that introduces students to relatable characters and real-life contexts.

Learning outcomes

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify unhelpful thoughts
  • explain different ways of challenging unhelpful thoughts and where to seek support

For more information on how to use these lesson plans in the classroom, visit the PSHE Association website.


Supports the Relationships Education and Health Education (RSHE) statutory guidance

Mental wellbeing

Students should have the opportunity to learn:

  • how to talk about their emotions accurately and sensitively, using appropriate vocabulary
  • how to recognise the early signs of mental wellbeing concerns
  • the positive associations between physical activity and promotion of mental wellbeing, including as an approach to handle stress
  • that there is a normal range and scale of emotions (for example happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and nervousness) that all humans experience in relation to different experiences and situations

Supports the PSHE curriculum

Core Theme 1 (Health and wellbeing)


  • H7 – the characteristics of mental and emotional health and strategies for managing these 
  • H10 – a range of healthy coping strategies and ways to promote wellbeing and boost mood, including physical activity, participation and the value of positive relationships in providing support 


  • H7 – a broad range of strategies – cognitive and practical – for promoting their own emotional wellbeing, for avoiding negative thinking and for ways of managing mental health concerns. 
  • H8 – to recognise warning signs of common mental and emotional health concerns (including stress, anxiety and depression), what might trigger them and what help or treatment is available.