Training: Psychological First Aid in Detention Centres

AVID is pleased to let the members know that we are partnering with the Take Action Group to offer a free training on ‘Psychological First Aid in Detention Centres’. This training is based on the principles of Psychological First Aid (PFA), an evidence-informed support framework for assisting people in the event of a crisis.  PFA is a way of providing emotional support to people of any age or background in order to reduce initial distress caused by a traumatic event or a mental health crisis.  The goal of PFA is to foster short- and long-term coping and link to any available supports.

Many of you may have had experience with mental health first aid; however, this training offers a more specialised and tailored approach to the experience of those held indefinitely in detention. A team of specialists in working with mental health, conflict, persecution, refugees, migrants and detainees have designed the training to reflect the strains that those in detention live under and how best to support them. 

This training will offer you the opportunity to learn and develop practical and effective strategies in supporting people in detention with mental health challenges. It will help you to identify those at risk and those in need of further support as well as providing suggestions for dealing with  people suffering from deprivation of liberty, massive losses in terms of family and home, and the impact of detention. By attending the training, participants will develop tools that really take into consideration the extreme stress of the people they are working with.

About Take Action

The Take Action group was formed by a group of former and current field workers with Doctors Without Borders to improve the situation of migrants and refugees in the UK and to advocate for compassionate policies refugees and migrants in the UK. This training is part of a broad range of activities undertaken by the group, including campaigning for access to healthcare for migrants in the UK and raising awareness in the UK public. The group has no paid staff and is run entirely by volunteers. .


Learning Objectives

By the end of this course participants will be able to:


  • Understand the impact of people held in detention on their mental health and identify the broad range of mental health challenges that people in detention centres may experience.
  • Develop an awareness of the trauma that people in detention may have experienced and the impact on their wellbeing
  • Identify signs and symptoms of distress related to mental health issues and/or trauma
  • Utilise Psychological First Aid to support a person in distress
  • Describe when and how to intervene supportively when someone is at risk of self-harm or suicidal
  • Vicarious Trauma for visitors and how to look after ourselves and collegues


About the Trainer

Karen Abbs has been working globally in conflict areas with refugees and migrants for over 15 years for organisations including Doctors Without Borders and the Centre for Victims of Torture.  She is a mental health specialist and has developed psychological first aid training programmes that focus on the impact of trauma on refugees and migrants and how to best provide support. 

Register Here:

Venue: 115 Mare Street, London, E8 4RU

Event Date: 
Saturday, November 23, 2019 - 10:30 to 17:00