A systematic literature review exploring the views and experiences of children and young people of the label Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH)

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article reports the findings from a systematic review of qualitative research evidence exploring the views of children and young people identified as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and their experiences of the SEMH label. A systematic search identified seven papers that were reviewed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist. Thematic synthesis of the literature identified the impact of the SEMH label for children and young people as well as their perceptions of this label. Key themes included the negative and positive impact of labels associated with SEMH and the impact on children and young people’s identity. Implications for practice are considered including the importance of promoting the voice of children and young people in a description of their needs and working systemically with schools to raise awareness of the implications of language and to consider the impact of wider contextual factors on pupil’s difficulties.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021


  • Labelling, emotional and mental health (SEMH), identification, pupil voice, social, special educational needs (SEN)