Emerging Minds

Supporting children's resilience in general practice

About the course

This course focuses on the role of primary health care practitioners, including nurses and general practitioners (GPs), in supporting child and family resilience throughout their everyday work. The course recognises that children’s resilience – their ability to recover from adversity or a traumatic experience – thrives in the presence of supportive relationships with their caregivers.

The course will help you consider the ways you can support resilience in families by helping them to improve communication and meaning-making around adversities they might be experiencing. Doing so will enable families to tap into their collective strengths and resources to overcome these challenges.

Throughout this course you will be invited to consider how parental, family and social stressors impact on children’s mental health and overall wellbeing, and how you can best work alongside parents to minimise these impacts. The course examines preventative opportunities and entry points in your engagements with parents, and provides examples of situations where:

  • a parent presents with circumstances or issues that might impact on the child
  • concerns are expressed by a parent about a child’s behaviour; or
  • you hold concerns for the social and emotional wellbeing of a child after consulting with their parent.

This course will also introduce you to the PERCS Conversation Guide: a short, semi-structured and evidence-informed psychosocial discussion tool developed from consultations with practitioners and parents. The PERCS guide helps you take a preventative and proactive approach that encourages shared understanding and decision making with parents.

This training recognises the important roles that primary care providers play in supporting families early in the life of a difficulty. It acknowledges their role in providing preventative interventions to families where ongoing familial stressors or adversities are likely to have an impact on the child’s mental health and wellbeing.

This course is aligned with the National Child Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy (2021) which reminds us that ‘the optimal primary care system does not wait until a child is experiencing a mental illness before providing supports, but is prevention focused, promoting the wellbeing of all children from birth.’1


Patients as parents

This module explores the rationale for conducting preventative and early intervention conversations with parents about their children’s mental health and wellbeing. It introduces the PERCS Conversation Guide and explores ways of conducting conversations that are respectful and collaborative. The module features fictional demonstrations between a GP and parent-patient.

Applying the PERCS Conversation Guide

This module explores the PERCS Conversation Guide in detail and the five protective domains in a child’s life that it promotes. It provides examples of questions from the PERCS Conversation Guide and features fictional demonstrations between primary health care providers and parent-patients.

Who is this course for?

This course has been specifically designed for primary health care practitioners, with a particular focus on GPs and practice nurses. The content of this course recognises the important role GPs and primary health care nurses play in preventative care and supporting families early in the life of a difficulty, while also recognising the complexity of general practice work.

The course recognises that primary health care providers have a set of transferable skills that can be applied to this work. It aims to enhance practitioners’ confidence in recognising opportunities to intervene sensitively in situations where a child’s wellbeing might be affected by a parent’s physical or mental health condition.

Learning outcomes

Following the completion of this course you will be able to:

  • define resilience as it applies to children and families
  • identify entry points to engage in preventative conversations with parents about their children's mental health and overall wellbeing
  • describe how adult issues can affect children’s mental health and wellbeing
  • apply the six principles for engaging parents in conversations about adversity and children’s mental health and wellbeing; and
  • explain how to use the PERCS Conversation Guide, to have conversations with parents about children's mental health and wellbeing.


It is estimated that this course will take you three hours to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked, and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


For the purpose of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Primary health care practitioner refers to any clinician working within a primary health care setting. This includes GPs, primary health care nurses, allied health professionals and relevant others.

Resilience is the ability to recover, adjust to or grow after a challenge, or adversity.2 It's a process, rather than an outcome; resilience develops over time and ebbs and flows throughout a person’s life. This is why the same child may show resilience in response to one event and not another. The accumulation of adaptive experiences, within the context of strong, supportive relationships, is what builds children’s resilience.

Family resilience refers to ‘the capacity of the family, as a functional system, to withstand and rebound from adversity and to overcome significant life challenges’.3 Connectedness, open communication and shared belief systems are some of the most important elements in building resilience within families.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. Social and emotional wellbeing incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths. Social and emotional wellbeing is integral to child development.4

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It's a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.5

Social and emotional wellbeing is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.6

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.7


As you work through the course, it's important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow these self-care tips and seek help if needed:

  • We don't recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel like you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please seek help. Refer to the RACGP mental health resources for GPs, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.




This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. National Mental Health Commission. (2021). The national children’s mental health and wellbeing strategy. Canberra: National Mental Health Commission.
  2. Zhao, Y., Han, L., Teopiz, K. M., McIntyre, R. S., Ma, R., & Cao, B. (2022). The psychological factors mediating/moderating the association between childhood adversity and depression: A systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 137, 104663. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104663.
  3. Walsh, F. (2016). Family resilience: A developmental systems framework. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13(3), 313–324.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a children’s headline indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  5. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, 2017–2023. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  6. Everymind. (n.d.). Understanding mental health and wellbeing [Web page]. Newcastle: Everymind.
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009). A picture of Australia’s children, 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

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