SEND social, emotional and mental health needs

Find out more information about social, emotional and mental health needs.

Some children and young people experience difficulties in mental health and emotional wellbeing. These needs may show themselves as challenging behaviour, distress or be well hidden. Social, emotional and mental health is an overarching term used to describe actions that promote resilience and wellbeing as well as describing children who demonstrate difficulties with emotional regulation or social interaction or are experiencing mental health conditions.

If you need information or to speak to someone right now you can find out about children's and young people's mental health services in North Yorkshire or visit Healthy Minds, for Mental health support in Bradford and Craven.

For more information, please visit our mental health support pages. 


If you have concerns about your young child’s social and emotional development then you should talk to your health visitor, your nursery key worker or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo), childminder or your GP. All that may be needed is some extra support in nursery or from their childminder, and they may ask our SEND Hubs team for further advice and guidance around supporting your child.

They might also suggest a referral to the paediatrician, a speech and language assessment or an occupational therapy assessment. These assessments are usually done through observation in a non-threatening environment such as the home, nursery or a specially designed playroom and the professionals are likely to ask you about the concerns you have. All this would provide information on how best to help your child, and rule in or out any other potential causes of their difficulties.

School-age children

If you have concerns around your child’s social and emotional mental health, first discuss these with your child’s school to see if there is any additional support or advice they can give. There are a number of different avenues for support, and the best place to start is usually via their schoolteacher or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo). However, if you want to know how to refer yourself to another agency, or to find out more about what they might be able to do to help, you can contact them directly.

We also offer healthy choices, a 12-week health and nutrition programme for 5-19 year olds, working with the whole family delivering fun and interactive sessions on a whole range of different topics around nutrition, food, health and lifestyle.

Our SEND hub and NYES offer support and training to schools in making appropriate provision for your child.

You might also like to think about contacting our early help team. The role of this team is to support families in the home, and we offer a range of services from drop-in sessions to 1:1 support.

The personal, social, and health education curriculum in schools

The Personal, Social, Health Education PSHE curriculum (although non –statutory at present) in school should continue to support your child’s Social and Emotional wellbeing throughout their time in school.  

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is possibly the most important of the prime areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is the age at which children learn the skills they need to become actively involved in the world around them.

  • Personal development is about how children come to understand who they are and what they can do
  • Social development covers how children come to understand themselves in relation to others, how they make friends, understand the rules of society and behave towards others
  • Emotional development concerns how children understand their own and others’ feelings and develop their ability to be empathetic – to see things from another person’s point of view

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), personal, social and emotional development includes three aspects of children’s learning and development:

  • making relationships
  • managing feelings and behaviour
  • self-confidence and self-awareness

Key Stage 1 (5 – 7 years)

The key stage 1 (5 – 7 years) curriculum should include:

  • teaching pupils to learn about themselves as developing individuals and as members of their communities building on their own experiences and on the early learning goals for personal, social and emotional development
  • supporting the learning of basic rules and skills for keeping themselves healthy and safe and for behaving well
  • providing opportunities to show that they can take some responsibility for themselves and their environment
  • learning about their own and other people's feelings and becoming aware of the views, needs and rights of other children and older people
  • as members of a class and school community learning social skills, such as how to share, take turns, play, help others, resolve simple arguments and resist bullying

Key Stage 2 (8 - 11 years)

The key stage 2 (8 – 11 years) curriculum should include:

  • teaching pupils to learn about themselves as growing and changing individuals with their own experiences and ideas, and as members of their communities. Encouraging them to become more mature, independent and self-confident
  • learning about the wider world and the interdependence of communities within it
  • supporting the development of their sense of social justice and moral responsibility and guiding pupils to understand that their own choices and behaviour can affect local, national or global issues and political and social institutions
  • supporting pupils on their journey as they begin to develop into young adults, to face the changes of puberty and transfer to secondary school with support and encouragement from their school
  • supporting pupils in making confident and informed choices about their health and environment
  • encouraging pupils to take more responsibility, individually and as a group, for their own learning and to resist bullying

Secondary school curriculum

The secondary school curriculum should include:

Personal identities

  • making judgements about their personal qualities, skills and achievements and using these to set future goals
  • presenting themselves confidently and responding positively to praise and criticism
  • explaining how changes in personal circumstances may affect their feelings and behaviour, and how they can manage such situations effectively

Healthy lifestyles

  • describing the short and long-term consequences of personal health choices, including choices relating to sexual activity and substance use and misuse and make decisions based on this knowledge
  • identifying some of the causes and symptoms of mental and emotional ill health, and identify strategies for recognising, preventing and addressing these in themselves and others
  • demonstrating confidence in finding professional health advice and help others to do so
  • identifying reasons why people might use illegal drugs and explain how drug use can impact on physical, mental and economic aspects of people’s lives, relationships and the wider community


  • evaluating the potential risks and benefits of personal lifestyle choices including their impact on relationships
  • recognising that risk assessment and management are part of life and give examples of how to manage and reduce risk in different circumstances


  • developing appropriate relationships with a widening range of adults in a variety of contexts
  • explaining the importance of different relationships and associated responsibilities, including the significance of marriage, stable relationships, civil partnerships, and long term commitments
  • describing some of the possible effects of family and other significant events on feelings, emotions and personal wellbeing, and the impact these may have on relationships


  • explaining how differing cultures, faiths and beliefs may influence lifestyle choices, and demonstrate respect for these differences
  • taking the initiative in challenging or giving support in connection with offensive or abusive behaviour

Schools are judged by Ofsted in relation to how they effectively support the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children and young people.