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WHO CC UTS launches Basic Psychosocial Skills: Training for COVID-19 Responders

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Global Mental Health Action Network: Member's Blog

WHO CC UTS launches Basic Psychosocial Skills: Training for COVID-19 Responders

By Michele Rumsey, Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health University of Technology Sydney


A new free online course on Basic Psychosocial Skills has been made available by the WHO CC UTS. The Basic Psychosocial Skills online Training is a FREE program for those affected by the pandemic designed to build resilience and mental health wellbeing for first responders and frontline health staff.


WHO Collaborating Centre at UTS (WHO CC UTS) has worked since mid-June 2020 to adapt the IASC Basic Psychosocial Skills: A Guide for COVID-19 First Responders, creating teaching resources that were accessible and engaging for communities in the Pacific and region. As a result a free online short course was developed in collaboration with stakeholders across the region. 


The short course was developed to provide COVID-19 responders with psychosocial skills to support the mental health of themselves and others in their communities against the higher rates of stress and distress. It has been identified that there are significant gaps in the provision of mental health training for health professionals with in the Pacific and region, particularly in psychosocial skills. 


The course was developed in collaboration with the Pacific Working Group and regional contacts. Attempts were made to close the gap by providing mental health prevention training by developing individual psychosocial skills that were seen to be important and useful to practitioners and communities on the ground


The free online course:

  1. Focuses on personal well-being
  2. Explores supportive communication in everyday interactions
  3. Provides a practical framework to enable first responders to support others to problem-solve and make healthy decisions
  4. Examines how to recognise emotional patterns and provide support to individuals.
  5. Provides a certificate on completion


Thank you so much. I enjoyed the course and I would like to say that the course's instructional design was exceptional. Congratulations to the team!


A Working Group was established which included members from 6 Pacific Island Countries. The Working Group convened several times during July and August 2020 for discussions, Zoom workshops, and structured feedback opportunities on the development of the First Responder resources. Their detailed feedback and recommendations were incorporated into the development of an adapted training resource of Basic Psychosocial Skills: Training for COVID-19 Responders.


It is relevant at the present situation. All health practitioners should have access to this information/training


In October 2020, WHO CC UTS held a virtual event where front-line workers from Solomon Islands were facilitated in workshopping basic psychosocial skills and practices. Largely, by virtue of the feedback, the session was regarded to be a success. The strengths of the training were identified to be the case study examples. Participants were also asked to identify any weaknesses or things they would like to learn more about, and themes emerging were that more time to complete online activities would be helpful - online training was seen by some to be a challenge, and even more opportunities to practise skills would have been appreciated. So an innovative interactive online program was developed with regional partners.


I enjoy the psychosocial fact of the training which involved finding solution for those in need


WHO CC UTS developed videos, story boards, case studies through regional stakeholder engagement. WHO CC UTS launched the free online course on Basic Psychosocial Skills Training for COVID-19 Responders earlier this year


Global map of participates enrolled in the BPS: training for COVID-19 Responders

Global map of participates enrolled in the BPS: training for COVID-19 Responders


The Centre has been overwhelmed by the number of people that have enrolled and completed the course, with over 500 enrolments in the first two months from across the world. 


The Basic Psychosocial Skills Online Training is a free program that is designed to build resilience and mental health wellbeing for first responders and frontline health staff. WHO CC UTS hopes that the online course provides individuals around the world with an opportunity to develop a basic level of understanding about what psychosocial skills and how they can improve the mental health of the individual and their community during this difficult time. 


It is recommended that the following should be considered to assist in identifying and developing future online courses:


  • should be systematic mapping of education and training to specific population needs including universal health coverage and other health-related sustainable development goals, the educational course targets and where the gaps exist;
  • there is a need for more standardised and integrated curriculum that is also emergent of health needs such as human behaviour and psychosocial skill sets to support emergency responders across all types of emergencies. 
  • shift to remote teaching requires an ongoing commitment to developing infrastructure to support students through their learning. 
  • should work in partnership with stakeholders to develop online platforms that are accessible, culturally appropriate and address the physical and mental health needs of the community. 


This program will go through a constant review process and continue to collect feedback from participants the following information on the program can be shared widely. If you would like further information and or access to the presentation and facilitation notes please email us on below address.


The training is timely and important during this time. We need to have more of this training




Frequently asked Question about the program have been:

How many resources are provided in the Basic Psychosocial Skills training program?
The program provides 3 resources. Guidance reportshort online course
and presentation with facilitation notes.  

How many languages is the guidance offered in?
While the online course is only in English, the guidance report is provided in 28 languages.

Is the online course time-bound?
No. The online course is self-paced and takes an average of 3 hours to complete with a short quiz and a certificate awarded. 


It is recommended to use Google Chrome for this online course.


View a detailed video on how to sign up see hereEnroll for this free online course here.  Read instructions on how to sign up and learn more about the basic psychosocial skills course.


You will need an email account to register and log in for the online course. For more information and full Power Point with facilitation notes, please contact


Michele Rumsey FACN
Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development,
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health
University of Technology Sydney