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McDonald’s removes smile from Happy Meals for first time to mark Mental Health Awareness Week

Pudsey and a McDonald's Happy Meal box without the smile and with the message It's okay not to feel happy all the time.

This Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) McDonald’s has removed the smile from its Happy Meal boxes for the first time ever, in partnership with BBC Children in Need.

The move aims to communicate to children it is okay not to be happy all the time, and help spark family conversations about emotions. It follows research commissioned by McDonald’s which reveals that almost half (48%) of UK children feel like they must be happy all the time, even if they do not want to be.


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The research also shows the emphasis parents put on their children to feel positive all the time, with 74% saying it is important to stop their children from feeling sad, and almost two-thirds (63%) saying they always encourage their children to be happy.

McDonald's Happy Meal box with stickers

Available alongside the limited-edition Happy Meal boxes are sheets of stickers showing emotions that children experience, which they can put on the boxes to show how they’re feeling. The boxes are available nationwide in all McDonald’s restaurants, with the stickers available in select locations during Mental Health Awareness Week.

McDonald's Happy Meal boxes with emotion stickers

McDonald’s is working with BBC Children in Need to provide families with access to a hub of resources designed to encourage candid conversations on emotional wellbeing with children. This is in collaboration with the charity’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign that shines a light on the emotional weight children and young people across the UK carry. The hub is available to access via a QR code on the limited-edition Happy Meal boxes, as well as via the McDonald’s website and social media channels.  

Football legend Rio Ferdinand has teamed up with McDonald’s to support the campaign. He is drawing on his own personal parenting experiences to highlight to parents and families the reasons why it is so important to have conversations about emotional wellbeing with your children. 

Louise Page, Head of Consumer Communications & Partnerships at McDonald’s, commented:

“We’ve been proudly supporting BBC Children in Need for four years now, and we know how important it is to help stimulate open conversations about mental health in families. Through this change to our iconic Happy Meal® box, we hope that many more families are encouraged to kickstart positive conversations around children’s emotions and wellbeing.”

Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, said:

“Ensuring children are happy is at the top of all parents’ priorities, but allowing children to express themselves and giving them the necessary space to articulate when they aren’t feeling at their best is of equal importance.


“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.”

Customers are also invited to donate the cash equivalent of their MyMcDonald’s Rewards points to BBC Children in Need through the McDonald’s App.