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Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People

Public Health England via FutureLearn


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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.

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.


  • Knowledge
    • Welcome to the course
    • Who can benefit from PFA
    • Stage 1: Prepare
  • PFA in practice
    • Stage 2: Look
    • Stage 3: Listen
  • PFA in practice and supporting yourself and colleagues
    • Stage 4: Link
    • Looking after yourself and others when delivering PFA
    • End of the course

Taught by

Jude Stansfield


4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 1346 ratings

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