This briefing summarises NICE's recommendations for local authorities and partner organisations on social and emotional wellbeing for children and young people, specifically, vulnerable children aged under 5 years and all children in primary and secondary education. It is particularly relevant to health and wellbeing boards.

Social and emotional wellbeing creates the foundations for healthy behaviours and educational attainment. It also helps prevent behavioural problems (including substance misuse) and mental health problems. That's why it is important to focus on the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.

This is in line with the overarching goal of children's services, that is, to ensure all children have the best start in life (Fair society healthy lives).

Promoting social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people will help local authorities and their local partners meet objectives outlined in the public health outcomes framework for England, 2013–2016.

The targeted and universal activities described in this briefing can only form one element of a broader, multi-agency strategy to promote and support social and emotional wellbeing in children and young people. See for example, activities covered in NICE pathways on antisocial behaviour and conduct disorders in children and young people, antenatal and postnatal mental health, autism, depression in children and young people, looked-after babies, children and young people, pregnancy and complex social factors and when to suspect child maltreatment.

For the purposes of this briefing, the following definitions are used:

  • emotional wellbeing – this includes being happy and confident and not anxious or depressed

  • psychological wellbeing – this includes the ability to be autonomous, problem-solve, manage emotions, experience empathy, be resilient and attentive

  • social wellbeing – has good relationships with others and does not have behavioural problems, that is, they are not disruptive, violent or a bully.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

For further information on how to use this briefing and how it was developed, see About this briefing.