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Critical incident support (CISM)

Critical incidents are unexpected events that may have a physical or emotional impact on you. These are unusually challenging or distressing events that overwhelm your normal coping capacity.

Healthcare staff often have to deal with traumatic incidents.

These include:

  • serious assaults in the workplace
  • death of children
  • unusual deaths
  • clinical incidents
  • road traffic accidents
  • suicide

CISM Response help staff who need support following a traumatic incident.

This is not counselling or psychotherapy. It's an emergency mental health intervention, which is a form of psychological first aid.

The CISM Response Unit has local teams in different locations across the country.

Call 0818 327 327 to speak to someone who can help.

Support given by Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Response

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Response offers structured social support following a critical incident

The service aims to:

  • prevent harmful effects by working with you at the time of a critical incident
  • provide you with social support, and coping and self-management techniques
  • help you to return to normal team working
  • identify if you need a referral to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

The Employee Assistance Programme will:

  • assess the impact of the critical incident
  • identify appropriate CISM supports
  • provide follow-up support


EAP counselling is a confidential service. No information about your issue will be given to anyone without your written consent.

Confidentiality is strictly maintained, except where:

  • the client, other employees, or the public are at serious risk
  • a criminal offence is committed
  • ordered to disclose by a court of law
  • there is a child protection concern

Contact CISM Response

Call 0818 327 327 to speak to someone who can help.

Related content

Policy for preventing and managing critical incident stress (PDF, 1MB, 11 pages)

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2020
Next review due: 20/11/2023