Good practice guidance and parent tips to provide support following traumatic events such as road accidents

Every day, children, young people and families are caught up in road accidents which can vary from slight to severe. Each incident can be stressful in many different ways, but the most serious events can be highly traumatic with emotional and physical consequences which are far-reaching. Other types of accident and traumatic experience can involve equally stressful reactions. 

To provide greater awareness of the seriousness of such traumatic events, and the most appropriate response, the Institute of Health Visiting has published Good Practice Points for Health Visitors: Supporting families following a traumatic event, and Parent Tips: Supporting children and young people after a traumatic event

Both fact sheets have been written by the Mental Health Foundation, and the Parent Tips highlight some important responses such as:

  • Let your children know they are safe.
  • Keep things as normal as possible.
  • Talk to your child about the normal range of reactions after a traumatic event.
  • Look after yourself.
  • Support children to understand what happened.
  • Finding the right time to talk. 

The fact sheets include links to sources of additional information on post-traumatic stress disorder and its associated impacts.

Commenting on the new fact sheets, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting said:

“With more than two thirds of children experiencing at least one traumatic event by the time they are 16 years old, we need to be able to provide good support to them and their families. Through mandated contacts with families, health visitors build good trusted relationships with all families and are, therefore, well placed to provide guidance and support at these difficult times. We very much hope that this new guidance will help both families and health visitors manage these enormously challenging circumstances with more knowledge of what will help.”

More information

The fact sheets can be downloaded at:

Updated October 2017