Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

All children and young people require support to develop healthy Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs and this can sometimes mean that they require additional and different provision in order for them to achieve.

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways, these may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or attachment disorder.

This section provides guidance to schools on how to support the SEMH needs of children.

Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children and young people, including how they will manage the effect of any Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs.

Tips on supporting the Social, Emotional and Mental health of Children and young people.

As teachers, you have a unique relationship with young people and as such are often privy to, or made aware of, when young people are going through a tough time emotionally.

Knowing how to support your own mental health and wellbeing, and that of your students’ is essential in providing a supportive learning environment. It is essential for your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of pupils in your care, that you are able to deal with these situations appropriately.

When a pupil turns to you for help, it's because they trust and respect you. Sometimes being the person that someone turns to can become a burden. When pupils confide in you, naturally you want to do all you can to help them. But sometimes it's hard to know what to say, how to help, or who to turn to for advice. So here are some key messages to remember in order to look after the pupil, but also look after yourself.

  • Show you care and give them time and attention. Often pupils don't need anything more than someone who is willing to just be there for them. Having a trusted adult that they can talk to is an important protective factor.
  • Be yourself and be prepared to listen and understand what is happening to the young person.
  • Be non-judgmental, patient, calm, and accepting. The young person may be reluctant to talk about their problem because they don't want to upset anyone, but they need to know they're doing the right thing by talking to someone.
  • Know how and when to go to others for help. Encourage the pupil to seek help themselves. They may feel supported if you offer to go with them.
  • If you feel out of your depth, don't try dealing with the situation alone. If you feel like the problem is serious or you have concerns for the pupil’s welfare you must report this to your head teacher or LADO.
    Sometimes a pupil doesn't come to you for help, but they may be behaving in ways that make you worried about them. There are some warning signs that you can look out for. But it is important to remember that any one of these alone (lasting only a short time) is normal, but if you know a pupil with some of these signs lasting more than a couple of weeks, they may need some outside help.
    Signs to look out for include:
  • constantly thinking or talking about their problem/s
  • acting and being very out of character (for example, a quiet person becoming loud and wild or an outgoing person becoming really quiet)
  • unexpected outbursts of emotion
  • having problems with sleep - sleeping too much or not enough
  • changes to eating habits - not eating at all, or eating and then throwing up
  • using drugs or alcohol
  • taking part in risk taking behaviours
  • avoiding friends and social events that they would normally be part of
  • threats or talk of killing themselves
  • acting or talking like no one cares about them; nobody would notice if they went away, or the world would be a better place without them.
    Next steps
    If you do have concerns for the welfare of a pupil then don't be afraid to raise your concerns with them. They will often feel a sense of relief that someone has noticed and cares enough to ask how they are going. If your concerns are confirmed, then it is important to inform the appropriate staff within the school to ensure that the pupil receives the help and support they need to stay safe. Each school will have safeguarding policies that identify the processes for notifying a concern about risk of harm to a student.
    Youth Mental Health first aid is available for school staff the Inclusive Education Service
    Enhanced Mainstream Schools (EMS)
    There is a network of eight Enhanced Mainstream Schools for Social, Emotional, Mental Health across North Yorkshire. An EMS is a local primary school that provides additional support in the locality for pupils exhibiting SEMH. Extra help is provided via outreach and support to pupils' home schools and fixed term, sessional in reach in the specialist EMS School if appropriate. The majority of pupils remain on their own school roll. (link to the SEMH EMS page)
    Pupil Referral Services (PRS)
    In North Yorkshire there are Pupil Referral Units for secondary school age pupils that offer flexible opportunities for those unable to fully access full time schooling. The groups supported include those excluded from school, those at risk of exclusion, vulnerable pupils and those who for medical reasons are unable to access mainstream schooling. (Link to the PRS page)
    Specialist SEMH Provision
    For the majority of pupils their SEMH needs will be met within mainstream schools through the delegated funding available to them. In a small minority of cases some children with significant SEMH needs may require more specialist provision. In North Yorkshire there are two special schools for pupils with SEMH, Forest Moor and Brompton Hall. Link to the SEMH special school page)
    Inclusion / Exclusion Support
    Behaviour and Attendance Advisers provide specialist advice and support in line with national guidance to ensure that behavioural frameworks, policies and procedure support all. The Ladder of Intervention is guidance that supports schools to adopt a graduated response to supporting children and young people with Social emotional and mental health. Further information on exclusion can be found here
  • The Ladder of Intervention provides a structured step by step guide for schools to support individual pupils who have social and emotional needs which may result in behaviour that challenges them which in turn can trigger exclusions.  It provides guidance on a graduated response to ensure early help is in place to support children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs including those that are at risk of exclusion.

Useful downloads
SEMH Intervention guidance 
Ladder of Intervention (Updated January 2020)
Please CLICK HERE to read the Social and Emotional Mental Health Plan (2017-2020)
For more information about support for individual children please click: