Social, Emotional, Mental Health

What are Social Emotional Mental Health Difficulties or SEMH?

SEMH difficulties is an overarching term for children who demonstrate difficulties with emotional regulation and/or social interaction and/or are experiencing mental health problems.

Children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships. These difficulties may be displayed through the child or young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.

A wide range and degree of mental health problems might require special provision to be made. These could manifest as difficulties such as problems of mood (anxiety or depression), problems of conduct (oppositional problems and more severe conduct problems including aggression), self-harming, substance abuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Some children and young people may have other recognised disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), attachment disorder, autism or pervasive developmental disorder, an anxiety disorder, a disruptive disorder or, rarely, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Underlying Reasons Inappropriate / disturbing / challenging behaviours can be interpreted as a symptom or communication of an underlying need or difficulty. In order to address such behaviours we must address these underlying needs / difficulties.

It is crucial to identify, understand and then address/support the underlying factors that impact on children and young people, such as Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties, attachment difficulties, unhelpful thought processes or learning needs.

The majority of inappropriate / disturbing / challenging behaviours can be avoided or at least significantly reduced and managed through proactively promoting and supporting positive social, emotional and mental health.

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