What do we mean by ‘social, emotional and mental health needs’?
The World Health Organisation describes emotional and mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively... and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’
When we talk about children and young people having ‘emotional and mental health needs’, we usually mean children and young people who do not feel they can currently cope with day to day life and/or enjoy things, and who may not be able to achieve their potential in learning and in developing.
The SEN Code of Practice 2015 also adds the word ‘social’ to this definition to point out that sometimes feelings and behaviours in children and young people are linked to their ‘social’ life: what’s going on in their family, with their friends and in the community they live in.
Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs can be very different in different children and young people. Some of the issues that might be involved are the following:
* Having problems with peers (children and young people the same sort of age)
* Difficult times at home
* Experience of a traumatic situation
* Special educational needs and/or disabilities such as autism conditions, learning disabilities or physical disabilities.
* Any other issue which is affecting how a child or young person feels and behaves to the point where everyday life becomes a problem or the child begins to display negative behaviours which are new or concerning.
What can we do to help? .
It is important to remember that all children and young people experience difficult feelings and situations in their lives. Families often play the biggest role in helping children learn how to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. Schools, and other services in children’s daily lives, also play a big part in this. For most children and young people, this will be enough to help them cope with difficult times. For other children, if their feelings, thoughts and behaviours affect their everyday life and stop them from making progress, or risk harm to themselves or others, they may be considered to have social, emotional and mental health needs meaning they may well need extra help and support.
We already have a range of processes and activities in school to support every child's social and emotional health, and we recognise there is even more we can do to support SEMH as a whole school community and this is something we are excited to be working on at the moment.
In school we now have a Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead - Mrs Gull - whose role is to offer our children 1:1 or group nurture support as well as ensuring the school environment is supportive of both staff and pupil's mental health and wellbeing.
If you feel that your child requires additional support with their social, emotional and mental health, please discuss this initially with your child's class teacher. If it is agreed that your child would benefit from additional support from Mrs Gull, your child's class teacher will ensure a referral is made.