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Public Health England launches free psychological first aid training

Frontline staff and volunteers at the forefront of the national coronavirus response across England will be able to access a new psychological first aid training course online today for free, being offered by Public Health England (PHE).

The training will equip staff with the necessary skills and awareness to provide support and recognise people at risk of distress.

Public Health England developed the training, which follows the globally-recommended model of supporting people during emergencies, tailored to the specific challenges of coronavirus. The announcement was made by the Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries, with the course available to frontline workers and volunteers.

The free online course enables responders to develop their skills and confidence in providing key psychological support to people affected by coronavirus, including on issues such as job worries, bereavement or isolation as they carry out their vital work as part of the ongoing coronavirus response.

It will also help to develop understanding of how emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic can affect us all, how to recognise people who may be at increased risk of distress and how to offer practical and emotional support.

Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries said: “Supporting each other’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever during these challenging and uncertain times. Staff and volunteers in many different roles are working tirelessly to provide crucial support at this time and are often a critical touchpoint in identifying those who may be affected.

“This new training course will help to support the incredible work of frontline workers to support those most in need both through the coronavirus outbreak and beyond, equipping them with vital tools to deliver psychological first aid.”

READ MORE: NHS Providers: Support needed to meet mental health services demands

READ MORE: Kindness is key to overcoming Covid-19 crisis

Worldwide, psychological first aid is being used to support those in need of mental and wellbeing support in emergency situations. Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations are supporting its use in response to coronavirus.

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said: “The current pandemic has had a profound impact on all of our daily lives and none more so than our frontline workers who are seeing the effects of the outbreak first hand.

“Our training course aims to provide frontline staff and volunteers with additional resources on how to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing, how to provide support to those who need it most and advice on how to cope with difficult situations.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, added: “NHS staff have been working around the clock in the face of the biggest challenge our health service has ever faced, which is why it’s so important that staff are properly supported with their mental health.

“Psychological first aid training and a new text, online and telephone support service are just some of the many ways staff can be supported and I would urge anyone with concerns about their mental health to come forward to a colleague, your occupational health team or our helpline so that we can get you the help and support you need.”


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