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Johns Hopkins is offering free online course in psychological first aid

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2020 has been perhaps the most stressful and difficult year in decades. From the pandemic (and the resulting grief and disruption to our livelihoods), to racial injustice, to corrupt and incompetent government officials, to climate change, many of us are now facing more psychological burden than any time in recent memory.

Fortunately, Johns Hopkins University has now published a free online course that helps people offer psychological first aid to those in need, whether they are suffering from depression, anxiety, or some other form of distress. More than 200,000 around the world have already completed the course.

The online offering is led by Dr. George S. Everly, co-author of the book The John Hopkins Guide to Psychological First Aid and co-founder of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. It uses Everly’s RAPID psychological response model as its key organization framework. The model emphasizes the need for:

  • Reflective listening
  • Assessment of needs
  • Prioritization
  • Intervention
  • Disposition

You can take the course for free through Coursera at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/psychological-first-aid

Johns Hopkins’ new course follows a trend in using free online courses to advance mental well-being. Earlier this year, the University of California, Berkeley made its “The Science of Happiness” course available for free online as well. The platform edX offers free courses on a range of topics from several prominent institutions, such as Harvard, MIT, the University of Texas, the Sorbonne, and many others.

Too long some of our best information on well-being and supporting ourselves and our communities has been trapped within institutions to which access is limited, especially for those who are most suffering from mental illness.

This new model of education from Johns Hopkins and others can not only help us respond effectively when those we love and support are in need of emotional support, but also in breaking down barriers to the knowledge and resources that can best help communities in need and our society more generally thrive.


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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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