What is SEMH Meaning in Education?

Semh meaning is short for social, emotional and mental health – it covers a wide spectrum of behaviour problems that impact a student’s ability to learn. Children with SEMH needs may feel confused, upset, angry, or misunderstood and this can manifest in a range of ways from aggressive outbursts to a lack of focus in lessons.

The Department for Education (DfE) statistics show that pupils with SEMH difficulties are the second largest group of school-aged children receiving SEN support in England. They can struggle to form healthy relationships, be unable to concentrate and often find it difficult to follow routines. This can lead to them feeling frustrated, isolated and withdrawn. It’s not uncommon for these difficulties to affect their academic achievements, putting them at risk of underachievement or exclusion from school.

Common behaviours students may exhibit when they have SEMH challenges include:

Problems in family life including conflict, abuse or neglect, parental substance misuse, personality disorders and a history of bullying can all contribute to developing SEMH challenges.

As well as ensuring they are well supported at home, schools can help students with SEMH difficulties thrive through a variety of practical strategies. These can include personalised behaviour and learning plans, nurture groups, positive reinforcement, mindfulness activities and establishing a compassionate school ethos that recognises the value of every child’s emotional wellbeing. It is also important to remember that SEMH issues can be temporary and with the right support, children can overcome them.