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Pupils who are permanently excluded have a diagnosis of SEMH needs

What Are SEMH Needs?

SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) is a term that was introduced in the Special Education Need and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice in 2014. It replaced the terms BESD (Behaviour Emotional Social Development) and EBD (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties). The new abbreviation, SEMH, was the first term to drop the word ‘behaviour,’ in an attempt to emphasise that behaviour is only ever a way of communicating something more significant. In other words, referring to behaviour meant that many practitioners were focusing on the behaviours on display, rather than the needs behind the behaviour.

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Of children under 19 are likely to have a diagnosis of a mental health disorder

What Are The Causes Of SEMH Needs?

The most common causes of SEMH are believed to include the following: Attachment history (lack of acceptance/needs being met/emotional warmth/positive feedback/managing emotional responses by a caregiver); Trauma history (domestic violence, abuse, neglect, bullying, violent crime, social exclusion, hate and prejudice, loss); Current family dynamics; Other systems around the child (school, community, society).

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Of children with a SEMH diagnoses do not make the national average academic progress of their peers

How Are SEMH Needs Expressed?

Children who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships. THese difficulties may be displayed through the young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. SEMH can manifest as difficulties relating to problems of mood (anxiety or depression), problems of conduct (oppositional defiance and more severe conduct problems including aggression), self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Some children may have recognised disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), attachment disorder, pervasive development disorder, an anxiety disorder, or, more rarely, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

By the age of 20


Only 30% of adults who had a diagnosis of SEMH needs at school have gained any sort of qualifications