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Highbury Primary School

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) 

SEMH needs are a type of special educational need where a child communicates through behaviour in response to unmet social, emotional or mental health needs.  

Children with SEMH needs are often dysregulated, which means that they have difficulties in managing their emotions or their behaviour. They can show inappropriate responses to their emotions. They can feel scared, anxious and misunderstood. 

It is estimated that around 150,000 children in mainstream and special schools are experiencing SEMH challenges. 

Some neurodiverse conditions, such as ADHD and ASD, can make it harder for the child to make sense of the everyday world around them. This can make their anxiety and dysregulation hard to predict.  

SEMH does not have to be a lifelong condition. With appropriate support children and young people can move forward and live successful lives. 

Behaviours Children with SEMH Needs Might Display

Some behaviours children with SEMH needs might display could be
Verbal or physical aggression
Lashing out
Possible law-breaking such as stealing or vandalism

Supporting Children with SEMH Needs

Some tips for working with children who have SEMH needs
Try to slowly build a relationship of trust
Provide clear and fair boundaries and stick to them 
Help the child to identify their own challenges and give them strategies to develop self-responsibility 
Make every day a fresh start 
Be consistent and say what you mean

Useful Online Information, Resources and Support

Useful online support
ELSA Support - resources to support social and emotional learning
NHS - an overview of ADHD
National Autistic Society - support, guidance and advice for people on the autism spectrum and their families
ADD/ADHD Simulator - This video demonstrates the difficulty level of concentration when someone has ADD/ADHD

*The ADD/ADHD Simulator video contains flashing lights and lots of noise, but is very effective*