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Identification - Social, emotional and mental health

Social, emotional and mental health needs in children and young people can be complex as they are often the result of an interaction between individuals, the environment and the child/young person’s own genetics.  This can lead to unwanted or difficult to understand behaviours which cause concern in schools. 

It is important that any behaviour causing concern is understood as an indication of an underlying unmet social, emotional or mental health need and addressed accordingly.  Challenging behaviour may also be caused by underlying language, communication or learning needs.  In these cases, please refer to the Learning and Cognition and Communication and Interaction sections for more information.

Examples of displayed behaviour resulting from unmet SEMH needs include: 

  • signs of emotional distress
  • displaying behaviour that has disruptive effects
  • ongoing friendship issues
  • conflict with peers and adults
  • reports of bullying,
  • withdrawal behaviour
  • any significant changes in behaviour
  • physical symptoms
  • anxiety. 

If the frequency, duration and/or intensity of the concerns continue or increase despite the whole school approach and adjustments to quality first teaching a more detailed and structured ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ process needs to be followed.

Examples of these concerns include:

  • Increase in the frequency and severity of behaviours that are perceived to have disruptive effects.
  • Decrease in the amount of time on task.
  • Decrease in social engagement/interaction with others.
  • Increase in withdrawn behaviours.
  • Increase in the frequency and severity of incidences of conflict with peers or adults.
  • Increase in the frequency and severity of self-injurious behaviour.


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