Social and emotional mental health support

Children and young people presenting with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties often struggle to manage their emotions and behaviour. They also find it difficult to make and keep relationships with adults and other children and young adults.

These difficulties may show as them becoming withdrawn or isolated as well as through challenging, disruptive or other concerning behaviour. Children and young people with SEMH often struggle to engage in a learning environment, often showing inappropriate behaviour and may benefit from additional support to reach their full potential.

Typical characteristics of those with SEMH are:

  • disruptive and uncooperative behaviour
  • unusual behaviour
  • withdrawn or isolated behaviour
  • anxiety
  • persistent low mood.

Of course, it is very common for someone to feel low in mood from time to time. This can be dependent on life events, bereavements or struggles with learning. It is important to consider factors which can affect a person’s mood and behaviour, and be mindful of the length of time and frequency.

SEMH does not have to be a life-long condition. With appropriate support, children and young people can move forward in their development and live successful and happy lives.

Worried about someone

If you are concerned about a young person’s mental health and are not sure what extra help is needed you can call the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0800 783 9111. The SPA is there to help you explore the difficulties and find the most appropriate response.

If a child or young person is in any immediate danger, or poses potential harm to others, call 999 or take them to A&E if possible.


National support

There is national support available from:

If you know a child or young person with symptoms such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts or dangerous behaviour, they can be referred to Kent Young Persons’ Wellbeing Service.

If you are unsure about who to contact, visit the Kent Resilience website to read a helpful online guide which will let you know who to speak to in Kent.

Online support for children or young people

If your child is looking for somewhere to get information for themselves there are some places you could suggest to them.

  • Moodspark is for young people aged 10 to 16 to learn to look after their emotional and mental health.
  • ThinkNinja is the first mental health app approved by the NHS to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic, and is now listed in the NHS apps library. It is available for 10 to 18 year olds.
  • Togetherall is available for 16 to 18 year olds with an online community filled with resources, information and online counselling.
  • Kooth is for young people 10 to 16 to get advice, information and can also chat to a qualified counsellor.
  • Kent Youth Health have advice and information for young people dealing with their emotions.
  • Kent Child Health: support for those aged 4 to 19 and struggling with their emotional health, you can access support from the Children and Young People’s Counselling Service.
  • ChatHealth: support for those aged 11 to 19 struggling with their emotions, text Chathealth to 07520 618850 for mental health support and find out a number of ways to help.
  • Good Health Matters can support a child or young person to make small changes to support their mental health.
  • Many youth services have been moved online, including opportunities for you to talk to youth workers and friends, as well as lots of new activities for you to try.

Online support for parents

Many people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so the support you can offer them can be really valuable.

  • Mind have produced a guide for carers supporting those with mental health conditions.
  • Release the Pressure text ‘Kent’ to 85258 for in the moment help when life gets overwhelming and you need immediate support. No fee, no registration or data required - it is silent, free, confidential and anonymous. We are here for everyone, young people and adults, 24/7 - text any time, day or night, whenever you need mental health support.
  • Find local counselling advice and support groups.
  • Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123 for 24 hour support. They also offer support by email, letter and face-to-face.
  • BBC Bitesize have produced 4 steps to chatting with your child about their mental health and 5 tips in coping with lockdown as a single parent.
  • Mental Capacity Act find out more about the Mental Capacity Act, to see how it can protect yours and your child's rights to make their own decisions.
  • Mencap how to communicate and help a child or a young person understand bereavement.