Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)​

What is SEMH?

What is SEMH?

Everybody has social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and all children and young people communicate how they feel through the way they behave

In Halton, we manage SEMH needs in line with our management of our SEND needs as listed in the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and schools can find materials to support with this area of needs in Halton’s Graduated Approach and Strategy Toolkit on the Halton Local Offer

More information is available in the DfE guidance on Mental Health and Behaviour in schools

Behavioural difficulties

Behavioural difficulties do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has a SEND and should not automatically lead to a pupil being registered as having SEN. Consistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviours can be an indication of unmet SEND, and where there are concerns about behaviour, there should be work undertaken to determine whether there are any causal factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or mental health issues. If it is thought housing, family or other domestic circumstances may be contributing to the presenting behaviour, a multi-agency approach, supported by the use of the Multi-Agency Plan may be appropriate. In all cases, early identification and intervention can significantly reduce the need for more expensive and intensive interventions in the long-term.

Understanding and expressing feelings and behaviours

For some children and young people, understanding and expressing feelings and behaviours can be much more challenging and so children with SEMH needs can find it harder than their peers to recognise, process and express their feelings in ways which you may expect. These needs can appear in a number of different ways, including becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.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.

Building and maintaining healthy relationships

Children and young people with SEMH needs may find it harder to build and maintain healthy relationships, engage in learning opportunities and feel happy and confident about themselves and their futures.  Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or attachment disorder.

As a parent, it can be find hard to find ways to effectively support your child in this area.  We have gathered some information together to try and help you manage this at home. Please see the Website Links at the bottom of this page for some helpful sites which can offer help.

While some children and young people with SEMH needs will benefit from the support of professional agencies, it is important to remember that all adults and peers who have daily contact with these children and young people can help. With good networks of support, children and young people with SEMH needs can move forward to live successful lives.

Support for schools from Halton Behaviour Support Service (HBSS)

Halton Behaviour Support Service (HBSS) can support schools in better meeting the needs of learners who present with SEMH needs or challenging behaviours.  We recommend that schools use the School Behaviour Toolkit and Checklist to identify specific areas of challenge and to develop a holistic support package for the child.

Resources, policies and training can be found on the Halton Behaviour Support Service (HBSS) page.

Mental Health and Resilience in Schools (MHARS) Audit

We also recommend that schools undertake the by contacting Halton Health Improvement Team in order to improve their mental health and resilience support for all community stakeholders.

Possible SEMH Indicators Behaviours, Feelings and Emotions 


Below you will find a table of less obvious and more obvious behaviours and feelings/emotions, or changes that may be observed in children and young people with SEMH needs.  Please note this is not an exhaustive list

Website Links

General information and resources
Resilience Resources for Young People
  • Bounce Back Newham provides tools, guides, resources, case studies and skills to help build resilience for supporting staff/schools, parents and young people
  • Kent Resilience Hub that helps young people, parents and carers and practitioners to understand emotional wellbeing and resilience, see the resources available under the tabs headed up:
    • The Resilience Toolkit – offers different types of toolkits
    • Supporting young people – offers resources for having a resilience conversation  and safe spaces
    • Supporting staff – resources and training
  • On My Mind  empowers young people to make informed choices about their mental health support
  • MindEd e-learning support for healthy minds offers free resilience training for parents and teachers
  • Inspire project for children or young people aged 10-18 living in Halton feeling unhappy or experiencing difficulties at home or struggling with an issue at school.  Please contact 01928589799 or e-mail info@wellbeingenterprises.og.uk for further information
Online training and support for parents and teachers
Skip to content