In an effort to encourage children to freely express their emotions and foster discussions about mental health, McDonald’s UK removed the smiles from its Happy Meal boxes during this year’s UK Mental Health Awareness week.

Starting healthy conversations

According to research done by McDonald’s, 74% of UK parents believe it is “important to stop their children from feeling sad” and nearly 50% of UK children feel pressured by society to always be positive. But suppression of negative emotions often has negative side-effects. As one of the kids in McDonald’s promotional video shared:

“If you don’t share your feelings, you have that worry inside of you…and you can’t get it out.”

In addition to removing the smiles from its Happy Meals, McDonald’s also included “emotive stickers” with the limited-edition boxes so children could pick the expression that best “illustrate[d] their feelings” while enjoying their meal.

Supporting Children in Need

As part of the campaign, McDonald’s partnered with BBC to support its Children in Need fund, which seeks to meet children’s physical and mental needs nationwide. From May 13 – May 19, McDonald’s UK customers had the opportunity to give back to their communities by “donat[ing] the cash equivalent of their MyMcDonald’s Rewards points” to the fund. Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, recently commented about the partnership:

“Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the vital impact we can make on children and young people’s mental wellbeing and we are thrilled to be working with McDonald’s to provide the necessary support parents and families may need to start the conversations with their children.”