Children and young people have in particular felt the harsh toll to their mental health over the last year, with many feeling anxious about their futures and their parents, as well as sharing in the depression and impatience about the seemingly never-ending wait until life can return to ‘normality’.

These natural reactions can be a cause for concern, especially if these thoughts and emotions become further entrenched and snowball into even more severe mental health conditions. Therefore, it is vital that prevention is key to any pandemic mental health strategy and for as many people as possible to have the know-how to address these thoughts and feelings.

Giving caregivers the tools to help young people, themselves, and their colleagues

Public Health England has launched a free training course which aims to equip parents, caregivers and professionals such as teachers, health and social workers, and charity volunteers with the knowledge to identify children in distress and to also have the practical skills to provide them with the necessary support.

The learn at your own pace, three-week course, will explore psychological first aid (PFA), the globally recognised training programme that a team of experts has tailored to support people during Covid-19 and related crisis situations.

PFA is a technique designed to provide front-line psychosocial support for those experiencing a traumatic event through practical care and support, listening, and helping people connect to information, services, and social supports.

Claire Murdoch, NHS Mental Health Director, said: “The pandemic has turned our lives upside down and hit children and young people particularly hard. Working with our partners, we have been doing everything possible to make sure that they are fully supported, and this online training will be invaluable in helping people to understand how best to offer the right support at the right time.”

“It has been a tough year, but the NHS is here for children’s mental health, so anyone who is struggling should come forward for the help they need.”