Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Good social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) creates the foundations for healthy and positive interactions. When children and young people feel safe and secure this helps them to engage fully in their education. Having good SEMH means that people can cope with the stress and demands of everyday life. They are able to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them. They can also make a positive contribution in their communities. People with good SEMH potentially experience fewer emotional or mental health difficulties.

Aspects of good Social, Emotional, Mental Health

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Emotional wellbeing

Positive Emotional wellbeing allows a young person to function well in society and meet the demands of everyday life. All people have ups and downs in their emotional wellbeing (high stress and low stress days). This is perfectly normal and a natural part of our thinking and thought processes. However this may become an issue when a young person’s emotional wellbeing is negatively affected. This could be through long periods of unsupported stress and or anxiety. This may also affect their psychological / social wellbeing. This could result in a child or young person being unable to independently cope with the stress and strains of day to day life.

Psychological wellbeing

Psychological wellbeing is the ability to:

  • be self-reliant
  • problem solve
  • manage emotions
  • see aspects from other people’s perspective
  • be able to give and receive constructive criticism and
  • be attentive

During times of high stress and anxiety some aspects of a child’s or young person’s psychological wellbeing may not function fully. Therefore during these times it is important that a young person’s emotional and social wellbeing is strong. These abilities will allow them to deal with the difficulties they face.

Social wellbeing

Social wellbeing is the ability to form and hold positive and age appropriate relationships with others. Good social wellbeing allows a young person to function with their peers. This is in such a way so as not to cause distress and or harm to themselves or others. Poor social wellbeing may impact a person/s ability to overcome challenging social situations. It may lead to a negative effect to their psychological / emotional wellbeing.

A special educational need is something that makes it harder for a child and / or young person to learn when compared to most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help. Many children and young people will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education.

Social emotional and mental health (SEMH) is recognised as a special educational need when a child and / or young person’s achievements, ability to form positive relationships, mental wellbeing or unable to routinely manage their own emotions and behavior are all being negatively effected over time.

Only a small proportion of children and young people will have SEMH identified as their primary Special Educational Need.

It is vital that a child or young person's overall needs are assessed in a timely, systematic and 'joined up' way. This will allow the identification of potentially un-met needs in other areas.

For more information on other areas of Special Educational Need and for information about when SEMH is identified as an SEN, visit our Social, Emotional, Mental Health as a Special Educational Need page.

A clear understanding of what may be negatively affecting us and knowing where or how to get help are key in supporting and sustaining good mental health.

Visit our Support and Resources page for more information about:

  • how a child or young person can be supported in schools and educational settings
  • organisations and community groups that support children and young people on Cornwall's SEND Local Offer
  • Useful resources and Top Tips for having good SEMH 

For compliments, comments and complaints contact the semh@cornwall.gov.uk or view the information online.