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Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People

Get Psychological First Aid training to support children and young people’s mental health during emergencies and crisis situations

90,981 enrolled on this course

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Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People

90,981 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 1 hour per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how to support children and young people using psychological first aid

On this 3-week course you will explore the techniques of psychological first aid (PFA), the globally recommended training for supporting people during emergencies. You’ll focus on children and young people’s mental health, and what you can do to help them cope and access the support they need during and after emergencies and crisis situations..

The course has been produced by Public Health England, working with a wide range of experts and organisations. It is based on international guidance from the World Health Organisation, United Nations and partners.

You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience as this introductory course will teach you the key principles of giving PFA to children and young people in crisis situations.

Identify how emergencies like COVID-19 affect children and young people’s mental health

Crises can severely impact mental health and it’s important that people have access to the support they need.

During this course, you’ll explore how emergencies affect mental health and what you can do to help the children, young people, and families you come into contact with.

You’ll learn how to recognise the common signs of distress across different age groups and be able to identify who might be at an increased risk.

PFA will also teach you helpful strategies to determine when people require additional support.

Deliver psychological first aid

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to deliver PFA techniques to support children and young people’s mental health after emergency and crisis situations.

You’ll have the tools to adapt PFA to the needs of particularly vulnerable people and be able to identify the ways to look after yourself and peers.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds privacy helps us to feel safe and maintain dignity, and people have the right to keep aspects of their lives to themselves. And communication is very important and an integral part of supporting people. So we may choose to use interpreters and certainly people who are unable to communicate with. That’s extremely important. And people have preferred means of communicating. So we can find those out through observation and by asking them. People also usually feel reassured by knowing what’s happening and getting updates, even if there’s no information. I think you’ve probably been in situations like that where I would like an update. Supporting independence and autonomy is also very important.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds People are very, very dependent situations in crisis, dependent on others for support, and the others are often us. Respect involves ensuring that they have choice and control over how their needs wishes and preferences are met and that they remain independent and autonomous in areas where they can.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome to the course

      In this first activity we introduce what psychological first aid is and who can provide it.

    • Who can benefit from PFA

      Who can benefit from PFA

    • Stage 1: Prepare

      Stage 1 of PFA, prepare

  • Week 2

    PFA in practice

    • Stage 2: Look

      In this activity we will look at stage 2 of delivering : ‘Look’ to assess the situation and identify those who need support.

    • Stage 3: Listen

      Effective communication and learning how to listen is an important part of PFA.

  • Week 3

    PFA in practice and supporting yourself and colleagues

    • Stage 4: Link

      This week we move onto the final stage of ‘Link’. Looking at how you can link people to the right services and support.

    • Looking after yourself and others when delivering PFA

      This activity looks at how you can support your own wellbeing, and anyone you work or volunteer with, to help you manage stress more effectively.

    • End of the course

      In the final activity of the course, we recap on what you have learned and ask you to reflect on how you might use it in your role to support yourself and others.

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...

  • Explain what psychological first aid is
  • Identify children, young people and families for whom it is suited and how you can help them
  • Describe how children and young people of different ages react to traumatic experiences
  • Identify ways to look after yourself and your peers when working in the context of an emergency
  • 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 who come into contact with children and young people aged 0-25 years during emergency and crisis situations.

Those who may benefit from this course include parents/ caregivers, front line workers or volunteers; or for young adults to support their peers or family.

You don’t need any previous experience or qualifications to deliver PFA. 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.
  • Understand the importance of accurate information during the pandemic and where to access it.
  • Have the ability to encourage active coping by, for instance, helping people make plans.
  • Encourage and help people to connect to others (in line with current regulations).
  • Be aware of people’s cultural preferences and needs.
  • Be aware that some people may be extremely distraught and tearful and that you may become upset too.

We recommend that people who offer interventions based on PFA should have social support available to them such as volunteer coordinator, line-manager or supervisor.

The PFA approach can be used with people of all ages. We have another PFA course focusing on adults. If you have completed this already you will find it easier to move quickly through the principles of PFA in this course, as there will be some repetition.

If you have urgent mental health needs, find your local 24/7 mental health crisis line.

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.

Lynne Jones is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, relief worker and writer. She has spent much of the last 25 years developing mental health programmes in conflict and disaster settings.

Isabel Wood works in the Public Mental Health team at Public Health England. Isabel holds an MSc in Public Health and brings experience from community based social support settings.

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.

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.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$79/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 9 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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