Psychosocial support and wellbeing

Psychosocial responses to COVID-19.


The current COVID-19 pandemic will affect us all in different ways: physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. Staff on the front line of healthcare services will experience varying levels of stress and distress at points. This is normal and predictable.

Below are three key areas to consider in terms of a psychosocial response to COVID-19 – looking after yourself, your patients and your staff. The principles and strategies listed here are based on good, reliable science that can help you manage the ongoing stress as effectively as possible. It has been collated to summarise the best available knowledge in this area at the current time with associated relevant links. It will be updated and added to on an ongoing basis.

Finally, as much as this is a stressful time we also know that people faced with chronic stress and adversity will often show enormous fortitude and resilience in the face of immense pressure, and it is important to hold this in mind as best we can.

This page covers the following topics:

  1. Looking after yourself : supporting resilience and wellbeing in healthcare workers.
  2. Looking after your patients : providing psychosocial support to patients and the public using Psychological First Aid.
  3. Looking after your staff : Responding to distress in frontline health-workers, advice for managers and organisations supporting healthcare workers.
Looking after yourself : supporting resilience and wellbeing in healthcare workers

Many health workers are likely to feel stressed and under enormous pressure during this outbreak – this is perfectly natural and indeed is a reaction to a very abnormal set of circumstances.

The following graphics illustrate the above ideas and may be worth bearing in mind or printing out and putting up a copy of in your place of work.

Small stress image 1
Small stress image 2
Small stress image 3
Small stress 4

Downloadable version:

Relevant links:

Looking after your patients : providing psychosocial support to patients and the public

Whatever your role is in the healthcare system, international research supports the use of staff implementing the principles of ‘Psychological First Aid’ to improve the longer-term psychosocial outcomes and effective recovery of the public when they experience any sort of crisis, such as the ongoing pandemic.

What is Psychological First Aid?

Essentially, Psychological First Aid involves offering humane, supportive and practical help, paying attention to the factors that seem to be most helpful to people’s long-term recovery (according to various studies and the consensus of many crisis helpers). These include:

  • Facilitating the conditions for people to feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful.
  • Helping to ensure access to social, physical and emotional support.
  • Helping people feel able to help themselves, as individuals and communities.
Looking after your staff : responding to distress in front line health-workers

Advice for managers and organisations supporting healthcare workers:

The principles of Psychological First Aid (linked above) are equally applicable to support staff.

Relevant links: