Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)
Sussex Mental Healthline
The Sussex Mental Healthline is a 24/7 telephone service offering listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties with their mental health or relatives, friends, carers and healthcare professionals. You do not need an appointment.
If you need support right now, this is a good place to start.
- For telephone support, call NHS 111 and select option 2 or dial 0800 0309 500
- You can also visit the Sussex Mental Healthline site
Poor wellbeing or social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) can be a part of a child's Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND).
Most wellbeing and mental health support services can adapt their service to specific SEND needs. Some are specialist in different types of SEND.
There are a number of potential wellbeing and mental health services that a child could have access to. The child and their parents or carers should identify the support they think is best suited to them. A child could have different forms of wellbeing or mental health support at different times in their life. It is really important to talk to your child’s teacher and/or the school SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), or a health professional such as a GP, if you are concerned about your child’s mental health and wellbeing. Together, you can discuss the best way forward to support you and your child.
Mental health or wellbeing support could be:
- Provided in school or out of school
- Provided for free by the council, NHS or a charity, or, paid for privately
- In the form of online, telephone, text, or, in-person counselling
- Carried out 1-2-1 or as part of a group
- Part of a time-limited programme, or open-ended
- Provided locally in East Sussex, or as part of a national campaign
- Aimed at overcoming a specific difficulty in life, or about longer term mental health challenges
- Specifically for a child, or, for the whole family.
This page gives some advice on different kinds of wellbeing or mental health support and provides useful links to help find the right support for children and young people.
Please note, we have a separate page for Personal Health and Wellbeing which covers other topics such as physical health and relationships.
Wellbeing Support in Schools
Every school in East Sussex will have their own approach to supporting students with their wellbeing and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). Parents and carers should speak to the SENCo about what support is available in their child's school.
The majority of schools have a mental health lead and some schools in East Sussex have a mental health lead governor.
Types of support available in school could include:
- Support from the School Health Service (see our East Sussex School Health heading)
- Support from an Education Mental Health Practitioner (see our Mental Health Support Teams heading)
- Nurture or friendship groups
- Mindfulness and resilience groups
- Referrals to additional services and health services
- Confidential messaging services, so students can email or text their feelings to the School Health Service
All schools must publish a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Information Report on their school website. This report should include information about what support is available for SEMH in their school.
You may wish to read these reports to have an idea of the support different schools can offer.
To understand how schools organise and decide what SEMH support they provide, you may also wish to read the East Sussex guide for schools:
Please note: this is a school-focused document rather than a parent or carer one, but can still prove useful to read.
Mental Health Support Teams - Me & My Mind
The East Sussex Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) provide short-term support for children and young people affected by mild to moderate mental health needs. The evidence-based interventions are delivered by Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs). They are East Sussex County Council teams with close links to the NHS.
They work across a number of schools in East Sussex.
Find out what schools are supported by visiting this websites' page on Schools Supported by MHSTs in East Sussex.
Please note: MHSTs do not work with children who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
East Sussex School Health
East Sussex School Health Service has a focus on promoting the health and wellbeing of all school-aged children. They provide a number of in-school health programmes and initiatives. They can complete a health assessment with you and your child to identify the most appropriate intervention and potential outcome and we will work with you to achieve this.
All schools have a School Health Team.
School Health Teams are led by registered, qualified nurses who have a specialist community public health degree. The team consists of community staff nurses, assistant practitioners, health improvement staff, school nurse assistants and administrators:
They also have a website, East Sussex Children, that provides lots of information that cover a range of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) topics. Topics include:
- Body image (also known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or body dysmorphia)
- Eating disorder
- Exam stress
- Feeling lonely
- Gender identity
- Self harm
Please visit the NHS East Sussex Children site to learn more and to find out what support is available.
Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)
Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) is a term used to describe some children and young people who do not attend school due to emotional factors.
Other terms are:
- Emotionally Based School Refusal (EBSR)
- Anxiety Related Non-Attendance (ARNA)
Education East Sussex (previously known as ISEND) staff have worked with East Sussex Parent Carer Forum (ESPCF) to gather the views of parents and carers about EBSA. This information was used to produce a toolkit for schools and an information booklet for parents and carers, which includes EBSA information for children and young people:
Wellbeing and Mental Health Support
There are various services throughout East Sussex and online that seek to help children and young people with their emotional, psychological and mental health. Within this section we have listed some of those services, and at the bottom of this section we have linked to our directory that highlights further support.
Please note: some of these services only operate in certain areas of East Sussex. Please visit their websites to find out more.
Educational Psychology Service
The Educational Psychology Service (EPS) focuses primarily on the learning, social and emotional development of children and young people aged 0-25 years, within their educational setting. They may provide advice, make referrals to other services or provide some one-to-one support. EPS is accessed via referral by your child's school. Speak to your child's SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) if you think this is the best option for them:
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
CAMHS provide specialist NHS services and support to children and young people up to the age of 18, and their families and carers who are experiencing difficulties with their emotional, psychological and mental health. They have teams of staff across Sussex and in the community who can help you and your family to get the support that you need:
The CAMHS website provides a wide range of information, advice, resources and more, including:
- Resources for children, young people, families, carers and professionals
- Parent and carer workshops that cover a range of difficulties that young people may be experiencing
- Recipes 4 Wellbeing guides providing help and advice, what to look out for and when you should be concerned
- Toolkits which have been created to support children, young people, parents and professionals with their mental health and wellbeing
Health in Mind
Health in Mind are dedicated to improving mental wellbeing. They deliver free courses, online programmes and 1:1 talking therapies for people over the age of 18 in East Sussex:
i-Rock can offer you advice and support on emotional and mental wellbeing, jobs, education and housing for young people aged 14-25.
They have drop-ins in Hastings, Eastbourne and Newhaven and offer virtual appointments:
E-Motion is a free online counselling project for young people aged 12-18 years who live in East Sussex:
e-wellbeing is a digital wellbeing service for young people in Sussex, run by YMCA DownsLink Group:
Finding SEND Suitable Counselling
There are counselling and therapy directory websites that can help you find the right support for particular ages and needs.
For example, the Psychology Today website has provides counsellors and therapists working in East Sussex, and has the option to search for specific help such as for 'Autism' or 'ADHD':
Other counselling directories include:
Additional Help and Support
Amaze have a page dedicated to mental health and wellbeing, which includes signposting and fact sheets for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove:
Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS:
East Sussex Local Offer directory of services
You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space, that lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services include advice, guidance and support groups, activities and events and mental health and wellbeing support among many other topics:
NHS - Health A to Z
While the East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible, there may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions, with information and advice on how to get extra support:
Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms
Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.