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COVID-19: Psychological First Aid

Get psychological first aid (PFA) training and help people with different needs to cope with the emotional impact of COVID-19.

148,068 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    1 hour
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Digital upgrade


Learn how to give practical and emotional support to individuals using PFA

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is the globally recommended training for supporting people during emergencies and offers guidance on delivering psychosocial care in the immediate aftermath of the emergency event.

On this 3-week course, you’ll explore the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to help people cope.

This course has been produced by Public Health England and is based on international guidance from the World Health Organisation, United Nations and partners.

Learn everything about Psychological First Aid

We’ll start off by discussing how emergencies impact mental health, and other ways people respond to emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many common responses to the pandemic, and you’ll be taught how to distinguish between signs of distress and signs of mental health conditions.

Preparing for mental health training

Preparation is key, and this will be your focus in week 2. You’ll learn about the role, discover the services and support you can offer, and gain an understanding about how to respect a patient’s dignity and rights alongside their culture and religion.

In the next stage, you’ll learn how to identify those most in need of PFA, assess support needs and look out for high-risk groups.

Offering emotional support and coping strategies

In the final week, you’ll learn about effective listening practices such as establishing communication and the do’s and don’t of providing emotional support.

Learn how to promote wellbeing, offer bereavement support, tackle practical problems and decide whether someone needs mental or physical support.

Finally, you’ll discover the best ways to support yourself and your colleagues while delivering PFA to others. We’ll teach you how to manage stress and explain the best places to get help.

What topics will you cover?

  • What is psychological first aid?
  • How do emergencies impact mental health?
  • The psychological first aid stages: Prepare, Look, Listen, Link
  • Supporting yourself and your colleagues
  • Example scenarios

Anyone can use this approach. The following is what you will need to use PFA:

  • Be a good listener. An important part of PFA is identifying what help and support each person requires.
  • Be well informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can give people accurate information. It is important that people can trust you.
  • Have the ability to encourage active coping by, for instance, helping people make decisions about the next steps they will take.
  • Encourage and help people to connect with their loved ones, or community and spiritual supports. Be aware of people’s cultural preferences and needs, and adopt a non-judgemental approach.
  • Know how to look after their own wellbeing and access support through friends, family, supervision or managers.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an understanding of what Psychological First Aid is
  • Identify for whom it is suited and how to help them
  • Identify how to better support yourself and peers in such crises
  • Engage with further reading into psychosocial support during emergencies.

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at frontline or essential workers and volunteers dealing with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. You do not have to be a specialist to deliver PFA.

Those who may benefit from this training include health and social care staff, first responders, frontline public-sector staff, essential workers, volunteers, supervisors and managers supporting staff or volunteers.

Who will you learn with?

Jude is a National Adviser in Public Mental Health at Public Health England and Leeds Beckett University. She is a registered Public Health Specialist and Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.

Neha Shah is a Specialty Registrar in Public Health with an interest in improving population mental health. She brings to this clinical experience both as a doctor and a psychodynamic therapist.

Head of Behavioural Science in the Emergency Response Department of Public Health England, and visiting Professor of Practice in the Psychology of Health Protection at King's College London.

Emeritus Professor of Mental Health Strategy, Welsh Institute for Health & Social Care, University of South Wales
Presidential Lead - COVID-19, Emergency Preparedness & Mental Health RCPsych July 2020

Who developed the course?

UK Health Security Agency

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is responsible for planning, preventing and responding to external health threats by providing intellectual, scientific and operational leadership at national and local level, as well as on the global stage. UKHSA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care.

What's included?

UK Health Security Agency are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

    Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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