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Critical Incident Stress Management

Critical Incident Stress Management

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Peer Support service has been running since 1998 and in its current ‘Trust wide’ format since 2004. CISM, (also sometimes called psychological debriefing or just referred to as debriefing), is a popular form of peer support for staff involved in critical incidents whilst at work.

The service operates on a voluntary basis with currently 30 members of staff who have undergone specific training to offer this form of post incident support to colleagues throughout Hampshire. They receive regular supervision, and updating to maintain the required skills.

We are therefore one of the country’s largest and longest running such services in the NHS, winning an NHS award for the service in previous years.

We offer a CISM peer support service throughout the Trust covering over 230 sites and support approximate 7,000 staff who work in a variety of inpatient, community and specialist services including adult and adolescent medium secure services. 

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CISM Training: 
As well as providing a support service to our own colleagues, the team is experienced in offering high quality training.  Previous purchasers of this training include:  South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Western Health and Social Care Trust (Northern Ireland), and Rethink Mental Illness.  

We offer a five day foundation training course focusing on teaching participants to be able to lead peer support critical incident stress debriefings, and to be able to offer one to one support sessions as required, although we would always encourage running as a group format when possible to allow for greater ongoing support to teams.  No prior knowledge is needed as we feel it is our responsibility to help support all participants to be able to obtain the required level of knowledge and skill required to complete the course. Such training is applicable to all industries/work environments and can be tailored to your own specific and unique needs. 

The intensive Foundation programme has been running annually since 1999 and has been specifically designed to provide participants with a skills based training, and evaluation of practice. The course runs over a week or can be split into two study blocks if this is preferable.  Course evaluations have consistently ranged from very good to excellent, both for content and presentations.  

Training can be offered at your own venue for teams of up to 14 people. However, from experience, offering training up to 8-10 participants allows more time for practice and development of confidence.  It is also possible for smaller numbers to join in one of our annual ‘in house’ training courses.

Service design and maintenance:  
In addition to offering training our service is also able to offer advice and guidance in both service design, and how to then establish and run a service. Then, more importantly, how to maintain a team to ensure ongoing fidelity to the CISM model.   

To support your own development we also include ongoing monthly telephone supervision/advice as required for 1 year post training.


To learn more about our training or how to develop such a service for your own organisation, please contact:

Dave Hannigan, Senior Nurse Specialist in CBT and Trust Lead for CISM:

Email: or Telephone 01425 622922. 

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