Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Breal logo

BReal: Building stress resilience in early adolescents' lives (2020-2024)

BReal focuses on developing evidence-based resources for schools to use to improve young people’s resilience, with the aim of learning skills to be able to cope with everyday challenges.

This project aims to engage young teenagers and equip them with the knowledge and practical skills to drive their own brain development in a positive direction that promotes good mental health. The project will inform, inspire and empower teenagers to cultivate stress resilience skills and thus enable them to better manage their own minds.

To achieve this goal, we are collaborating with PSHE teachers and young people to develop a three-lesson program of stress resilience skills development, firmly grounded in both neuroscience research and practical skills-based coping techniques, to be delivered in schools to Years 7-9. 


The project has an External Advisory Board comprised of Anne-Marie Burn, Tim Dalgleish, Mina Fazel, Lucy Foulkes, Jo Lindholm, and two young people with relevant lived experience, Amy Knight and Tilly Prestridge, from the Charlie Waller Trust Youth Ambassador Programme

watch now: Breal animated videos on stress resilience for young people

Working with animation company Science Animated, from February - October 2023 the BReal team developed a series of three videos outlining key concepts from the BReal lesson materials on building stress resilience for year 7-9 students. The videos are now available free online, and are suitable as standalone resources. 




May 2024 - Graphic designer (Naomi Waite) working on redesigning the materials for final distribution, and BReal team working on implementing round 2 feedback from Quality Mark assessor. 

March 2024 - revised lesson materials submitted back to the Quality Mark assessor for round 2 feedback as part of the assessment process. 

January 2024 - third meeting of the project's External Advisory Board. 

December 2023 - first round of detailed feedback received from Subject Specialist Assessor as part of BReal's application to the PSHE Association Quality Mark Scheme. Also, project end date extended from April to December 2024. 

October 2023 - Animated video series is released to accompany the BReal lesson materials. Produced by the animation company Science Animated, you can watch them here: Training your brain to cope with stress, Learning from mistakes, and Building stress resilience

Autumn 2023 - third and final piloting phase of BReal lesson materials in year 7-9 PSHE classrooms.

May 2023 - second meeting of the project's External Advisory Board. Lucy Foulkes, Amy Knight, and Tilly Prestridge join the Board. 

Spring 2023 - We are delighted to be collaborating with the Charlie Waller Trust. We have welcome two members of their youth advisory group to our External Advisory Board, and are collaborating with half a dozen other members on the development of our three animated videos on stress resilience. 

Spring 2023 - Updating the BReal lesson materials with suggested edits and additions from the Autumn 2022 student and teacher feedback, and External Advisory Board feedback. 

February 2023 - Development has begun on three animated videos to accompany the BReal lesson materials, highlighting key concepts. We have contracted SciAni, a leading science animation company, for this project. 

December 2022 - the project's External Advisory Board has had its first meeting. Members are Anne-Marie Burn, Tim DalgleishMina Fazel, and Jo Lindholm

October 2022 - Revised versions of the lessons (updated in accordance with teacher feedback from the summer) have gone out to schools for piloting. Between now and December, teachers will trial these lessons and students and teachers will submit feedback questionnaires to shape the lessons further. 

June 2022 - All three lessons have been developed in draft form, and are currently undergoing a pre-pilot phase via written feedback from secondary school teachers. 

January 2022 - This project has now restarted, with a newly extended end date of 30 April 2024. 

September 2021 to January 2022 - This project has been paused while a new Public Engagement Officer is recruited to succeed Maria Larriva-Hormigos in post. 

July 2020 - A team led by Jacinta O'Shea (Psychiatry), with colleagues Polly Waite and MaryAnn Noonan (Experimental Psychology) and Carinne Piekema and Maria Larriva-Hormigos (WIN public engagement team), has won a University of Oxford 'Enriching Engagement' grant funding award. 'Enriching Engagement' is a pilot grants programme open to Wellcome grant holders at Oxford, to develop and deliver public engagement with research projects. Jacinta's team was awarded £72,256 for their project 'Building stress resilience in early adolescence', to co-create with schools a stress resilience skills toolkit for Years 7-9. The project will run 1 December 2020 - 30 November 2023. 


BReal is funded by a £72,256 public engagement grant from Wellcome via the University of Oxford's Enriching Engagement scheme.