Social, Emotional, Mental Health & Wellbeing

Social, Emotional, Mental Health and Wellbeing



SEMH needs refers to social, emotional and mental health needs. Those who need additional SEMH support may have difficulties with emotional and social development, consequently struggling with social skills, and finding it difficult to maintain healthy relationships. This can lead to withdrawal and isolation, and/or challenging disruptive or aggressive behaviour.


An individual’s SEMH needs will impact on their wellbeing; wellbeing is about both feeling good and functioning well in day to day life. The things that we do and the way that we think affects our wellbeing. Improving wellbeing is proven to help with our physical health, our performance at school, college and work, and improving our quality of life.


There are five ways that we can boost our wellbeing:


    1. Connect… with people around you, with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, at home, work, school, college and in your local community.
    2. Be Active … go for a walk or a run. Step outside, cycle, play a game, dance, garden. Exercising makes you feel good.
    3. Take Notice…be curious, catch sight of the beautiful, remark on the unusual, be aware of the world around you, what you are feeling – savour the moment.
    4. Keep Learning … Try something new, discover a new interest, sign up for a course, learn to cook, paint, draw or play an instrument, challenge yourself.
    5. Give …. Do something nice for a friend or a stranger, thank someone, smile, volunteer your time, get involved in your community.

SEMH Needs can be expressed/manifest themselves in several different ways, including problems of mood (anxiety and depression), problems of conduct (oppositional defiance and aggression), and physical symptoms such as self-harm and eating disorders. Please see below for more information on each.

Depression can affect both children and teenagers as well as adults, and early intervention is important to prevent long-term disruption.


Signs in children and young people include long-term feelings of:

  • sadness/low mood
  • being irritable/grumpy
  • being tired/exhausted
  • loss of interest in hobbies

Click here for a list of other potential symptoms of depression in children and young people.




  • Headspace (ages 13 – 25)
  • Moodpath (ages 13 – 25) – depression and anxiety tracker
  • Sanvello (ages 13 – 25) – for stress, anxiety and depression

Everyone experiences feelings of worry and anxiety occasionally, including young people and children. However, if this anxiety begins to affect an individual’s well-being and impact on their day-to-day life, they may need additional support to help them cope with these feelings (NHS, 2019).


Signs in children and young people include:

  • constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
  • becoming irritable tearful or clingy
  • having difficulty sleeping/waking in the night
  • wetting the bed
  • bad dreams
  • difficulty concentrating
  • not eating properly

Click here for a list of other potential symptoms of anxiety in children and young people from the NHS.




Healthy Young Minds in Herts: Talking about Anxiety – Top tips for parents



  • Kooth – free, confidential online support for children and young people between 10 and 25 years old.
  • YoungMinds’ – Free Parents’ Advice helpline available Monday – Friday 9:30am – 4pm, on 0808 802 5544

Eating Disorders are mental illnesses which cause individuals to have an unhealthy attitude to food, eating either too little or too much and becoming obsessed with weight and body shape. This can affect both men and women of any age, but most commonly affects young women between 13 – 17 years of age (NHS, 2018).


The most common examples include:

  • anorexia nervosa – keeping weight as low as possible by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or both.
  • bulimia – sometimes eating a lot of food in a short amount of time (binging) and are then deliberately sick/use laxatives/restrict food/excessively exercise to prevent weight gain.
  • binge eating disorder (BED) – regularly eating large portions of food at once until you feel uncomfortably full, and then feeling upset or guilty.
  • other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) – symptoms don’t exactly match the above three (most common).





  • Beat Eating Disorders: Helpline: 0808 801 0677; Studentline: 0808 801 0811; Youthline: 0808 801 0711. These helplines are open 365 days a year from 12-8pm during the week and 4-8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively you could also try their one-to-one web chat.

Self-harm refers to when an individual injures or harms their body, usually as a way of alleviating overwhelming emotional distress (NHS, 2018) and may be a cry for help. There are lots of different forms of self-harm, with the most common being cutting (CAMHS, 2017).


Common signs in children and young people:

  • Unexplained injuries (such as cuts and burns)
  • Keeping fully covered even in hot weather
  • Signs of depression
  • Self-loathing
  • Withdrawal

Click here for a complete list of NHS signs of self-harm.





Tourette’s syndrome is a condition which can cause individuals to make involuntary sounds and movements called tics. This generally begins in childhood, but the symptoms usually improve and can go away entirely.  Although there is no cure for Tourette’s syndrome, treatment can help manage symptoms (NHS, 2018).


Common physical symptoms in children and young people:

  • blinking
  • eye rolling
  • shoulder shrugging
  • jerking


Vocal tics:

  • grunting
  • tongue clicking
  • saying random words or phrases

Click here for a complete list of NHS signs of self-harm.





  • Tourettes Action – the UK’s leading support and research charity for people with Tourette syndrome (TS). Helpline: 0300 777 8427. Find your nearest support group here, and support for children and young people here.
Support Services

  • CAMHS – Mental Health Service and The Wellbeing Team provide child & adolescent mental health service.
  • Young Minds – provide advice on self-help and mental health/emotional well-being services. Click here for their publications library which offer information on a variety of mental health issues, from school problems to mental illness in families.
  • MindEd – is a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults.
  • BoingBoing – provides opportunities to learn about resilience. We run regular Resilience Forums, develop Resilience Frameworks, books and other materials, and offer training and talks on resilient approaches to life’s challenges.
  • Family Lives – is a leading parenting and family charity, providing a range of services to parents and families across the country, including working with issues such as mental health, stress, problem behaviour, bullying, relationship and separation issues. Confidential Helpline: 0808 800 2222; Online Parent Group; Leaflets
  • YC Hertfordshire – provide a range of support for young people including help with health and emotional wellbeing.
  • Time to Change – a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems.
  • The Wellbeing Service – is a free NHS service for anyone aged over 16 which offers free and confidential talking therapy and practical support for Hertfordshire residents experiencing a wide range of mental health problems such as: worry, low mood, insomnia and stress. They also provide support for carers. Click here for a self-referral link.
  • Signpost counselling – provides counselling, coaching and other support to help young people aged 10 – 25 living in Hertfordshire overcome problems.

Relevant websites, documents and helplines