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  • Writer's pictureAction Hero Teacher

SEMH students: The One Rule You Must Follow To Serve Their Mental Health Needs

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

A black & white close up shot of a young boy staring at the floor.
We can help our SEMH students thrive in school

When dealing with children that Social, Emotional & Mental Health needs (SEMH) one of your most difficult tasks is not getting them to learn but helping them improve their self-worth & helping them recognise & sustain a healthy self-image.

Well-being often gets overlooked but this is absolutely critical to their long term success.

Some issues could extend from the home environment that the child was raised in. Children that deal with:

  • Challenging/dysfunctional family dynamics, (neglect, physical/emotional abuse)

  • Family members that abuse legal/illegal substances (cannabis, heroin, alcohol)

  • Poor/unstable housing conditions

  • Have SEN needs that have not been met

can cause traumas that arrest their development.

In order to cope in such frightening environments, they develop defence mechanisms like lashing out, zoning out, avoidance behaviours like walking away from you when you are talking to them amongst other things.

Because they have not been given the tools to differentiate & process their emotions, these defence-mechanisms or what I call 'mind programs' can run deep into their adulthood with dire consequences.

Some children from the moment that they were born, were told that they are 'good for nothing' & they would 'never make anything out of their lives' - how on Earth can we expect them to achieve when that they have that message ringing in their minds all day?

The Best Way To Serve Their Mental Health Needs? Be a Good Human.

A smiling teacher facing her smiling students
Being a good human makes you a good SEMH teacher

Let's get one thing clear.

I'm not asking you to be psychotherapists or counsellors - we as teachers should leave it to the professionals as they have been equipped with specialised skills that can help deal with our vulnerable kids' mental health needs.

But what I am asking you to do is to be a good human.

Care about those kids. Catch them doing the right things. Ask them how their day was. Correct them when they cross boundaries but do it with the spirit of helping them improve themselves rather than just making them feel bad.

What you don't realise is for some of your students, you may be the only positive adult that they have in their life. & they may never even say it to you.

Where their caregivers have failed, you have now become their 'positive object' & your words, kindness & actions will echo throughout their lives.

I know that some of our rascals can be a handful (weren't we all?) But I want you to think about that the next time little Tommy changes the Microsoft Teams setting to German!

You make a difference.

Do want to know more about how to serve the students sitting in your classroom?

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Teachers, my aims with this eBook are simple:

1) To give you the Bird's Eye view of how these revolutionary times shape our students' worldviews and attitudes.

2) And give you practical, hands-on, tips, tricks & solutions to keep your students engaged, inspired & behaving a little better in your classrooms… Physically or virtually!

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What are you waiting for?

Karl from


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