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Social, Emotional & Mental Health (SEMH)

Social, Emotional & Mental Health (SEMH)


Below you can find information on the following:

  • Anxiety & Panic Attacks,
  • Depression,
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

These have been selected due to being the most common. If you require any Information on another SEMH, please visit the NHS Website. 


Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety is an uncomfortable tense feeling that can make you feel tired, upset, worried, shaky or light-headed. For most people, it’s normal to feel anxious from time to time. But when you regularly feel this way it can be a struggle to enjoy life. If that’s happening, it’s important to get support or to visit your doctor.

Anxiety can also cause panic attacks. A panic attack is when you get a sudden rush of fear and feel less in control. It can make you feel like your heart is beating really fast, give you shortness of breath and feeling faint. A panic attack can be scary but it won’t physically hurt you.

For some Children, they may experience School related Anxiety. This is known as School Anxiety/Phobia. If this is happening, ask your child what they find difficult and what they would like to change. This can help identify specific triggers and worries. Your child’s view should be the starting point of any discussion about support.

There is a number of support strategies that can be implemented in line with reasonable adjustments. Support could look like:

  • Meet and greet by a trusted member of staff at the start (sometimes during or at the end) of the day
  • Leaving lessons or school 5 minutes early to avoid crowded corridors
  • Adjustments to the timetable if particular lessons prove to be a trigger
  • 'time-out' card
  • learning away from the classroom, in a dedicated area or room sometimes known as a 'safe space'
  • positive praise (for getting through a lesson - replacing sanctions for challenging behaviour)
  • 1:1 or small group interventions, support programmes, anxiety or friendship groups
  • Adult-led approaches – regularly checking with a child that they are okay
  • Help to understand and manage their feelings and emotions
  • Lesson breaks (to allow some calm down time)
  • Lunching away from the dinner hall, ask whether any lunchtime clubs available. (crowded dinner halls can cause anxiety)

When you meet with the school to discuss your child’s anxiety, you can ask about referral options, for example:

  • Counselling
  • The Alternative Tuition Service
  • The In-Year Fair Access Panel (IYFAP) – This is where schools can seek alternative provision and support OR if it is in the best interest of the child to change school for a time-period.
  • An Education Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)
  • Specialist Services – Educational Psychology, Advisory Service etc...


Additional Support

Below are some useful links from Childline and YoungMinds to help you understand more about Anxiety & Panic Attacks

Childline - Visiting your Doctor


Childline - Panic Attacks


Childline - Controlling your Panic Attacks


Childine - Managing your Anxiety


YoungMinds - Anxiety


YoungMinds - School Anxiety & Refusal



We all feel low or down at times. However; if your negative emotions last a long time or feel severe, you may have depression. Depression is a mood disorder where you feel very down all the time. Depression can be caused by a number of factors or  a reaction to something like abuse, bullying or family breakdown. 

Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness. Although it's hard to feel optimistic when you're depressed, there is lots of support available to help you feel better.

Depression affects different people in different ways. Symptoms can include:
• Not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
• Avoiding friends or social situations
• Sleeping more or less than normal
• Eating more or less than normal
• Feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
• Being self-critical
• Feeling hopeless
• Maybe wanting to self-harm
• Feeling tired and not having any energy

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by depression. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.


Additional Support

MIND - Information on Depression


NHS - Depression


YoungMinds - Depression


Samaritans - What is Depression?


Self Harm Support 


Papyrus UK - Suicide Prevention Charity

Telephone  - 0800 068 4141



Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) happens after you experience or witness something extremely frightening, like violence, abuse, rape or a life-threatening situation.

The main symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares about what happened
  • Avoidance and numbing, where you try to keep busy and avoid thinking about it or doing things that might trigger memories of the traumatic event
  • Being tense and on guard all the time in case it happens again

You may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger or irritability
  • Problems sleeping or eating
  • Survivor's guilt, where you feel bad because others suffered more than you
  • Depression
  • Problems with alcohol or drug abuse
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle aches
  • Difficulty remembering all of the traumatic event

Most people take time to get over a traumatic event, but in PTSD, you can't move past the event. People who have PTSD have dreams, flashbacks or upsetting thoughts about it what they experienced or witnessed.

Symptoms can appear straight after a traumatic experience, or later on. They're usually noticed within 6 months of the experience.

Just because you may be experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by PTSD. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
You can view the National Health Service’s (NHS) webpage on PTSD on the following link: 


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Although many people experience minor obsessions (such as worrying about leaving the gas on, or if the door is locked) and compulsions (such as avoiding the cracks in the pavement), these don’t significantly interfere with daily life, or are short-lived.
If you experience OCD, it's likely that your obsessions and compulsions will have a big impact on how you live your life:

  • Disruption to your day-to-day lifeRepeating compulsions can take up a lot of time, and you might avoid certain situations that trigger your OCD. This can mean that you're not able to go to work, see family and friends, eat out or even go outside. Obsessive thoughts can make it hard to concentrate and can leave you feeling exhausted.
  • Impact on your relationships. You may feel that you have to hide your OCD from people close to you – or your doubts and anxieties about the relationship may make it too difficult to continue it.
  • Feeling ashamed or lonely. You may feel ashamed of your obsessive thoughts, or as if they are a permanent part of you and can't be treated. You might feel that you can't talk about this part of yourself with others. This can make you feel very isolated. If you find it hard to be around people or go outside then you may feel lonely.
  • Impact on your physical health. Anxiety caused by obsessions can affect your physical health. You can read more about physical symptoms in our pages on anxiety.

Information taken from MIND (Mental Health Charity), for more information and support servics available, you can visit their website on the following link: