Dealing with distressed callers course

Call handler training encourages effective communication with individuals experiencing emotional distress, providing support and reassurance, while maintaining a calm and professional demeanour.

Dealing With Distressed Callers

Trainer Led Learning

3.5 Hours
Certificate of learning
  • Group bookings of 6-12 learners per course
  • Face to face or virtual course options
  • From £520 (excl VAT) per group

Online Learning

1.5 Hours
Certificate of learning
  • Individual or multiple learner bookings
  • £50 (excl VAT) per learner

What is a Dealing with distressed callers course?

Handling calls from distressed individuals can be challenging and stressful. Call handlers may be exposed to intense emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, or anxiety. Regularly dealing with calls of this nature can lead to emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, or heightened stress levels for call handlers.

The Dealing with distressed callers course can significantly benefit call centre staff or volunteers by improving their communication skills, emotional resilience, de-escalation techniques, empathy, and overall confidence. These effective call handler skills can lead to more positive experiences for both callers and staff, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and reduced impact on staff and volunteers' own wellbeing.

This course offers a specific type of telephone helpline training aimed at those working on support lines, in insurance companies or services where people have an expectation that is potentially not going to be met.


Why choose to train with us?

For more than 40 years, Red Cross Training has been providing training to businesses. With a focus on regulated training in the first aid industry and mental health training that was developed through real-world experience and expertise, we have established an excellent reputation, delivering valuable services and training to individuals and organisations throughout the UK.

This Dealing with distressed callers course utilises the same framework we use to train our own teams, who through their work, are routinely supporting individuals facing hugely diverse challenges and difficult situations. This versatile framework can be utilised to support the wellbeing of your employees or team members.

Did you know:

  • The Red Cross has a global reputation in providing both emotional and practical support during crises.
  • By learning with the British Red Cross, you'll benefit from the expertise of our teams in supporting people in emotionally challenging situations.
  • The course content is based on the globally recognised CALMER psychosocial framework.


What topics are included on the course?

The combination of skills included on the Dealing with Distressed Callers course will give your team increased confidence when they are handling difficult callers.

The introductory section of this course shares modules with our Wellbeing support at work course. This forms the foundations from which learners can build their skills in Dealing with distressed callers.

During the course learners will gain a deeper understanding of the following concepts and learn practical techniques to apply them in their daily lives.


1. Introduction to supporting others and yourself:

  • Understanding individual reactions to a difficult situation.
  • Understanding the impact of powerful emotions and ambiguous loss.
  • Recognising how the window of tolerance can help people thrive in everyday life.

2. Effective communication and active listening:

  • Understanding the importance of effective communication in providing support.
  • Developing tools to build rapport and trust.

3. Identifying and responding to others' needs:

  • Understanding different personalities, cultures, and backgrounds.
  • Identifying the needs of others.
  • Developing effective responses, resources, and support strategies.

4. Building resilience and coping skills:

  • Understanding the importance of personal resilience when helping yourself and others.
  • Developing strategies for managing stress and building resilience.
  • Developing skills for self-compassion.

5. Dealing with distressed callers:

  • Understanding the role of a call handler.
  • Identifying distressed callers and their behaviours.
  • Setting call expectations for the call handler and the caller.
  • Understanding the impact on the wellbeing of the call handler.
  • Using the British Red Cross CALMER framework when handling difficult callers/calls.


What are the course delivery options?

The Dealing with distressed callers training course is available to learners through two routes:

Online learning (1.5 hours):

  • Book for only £50 (excl VAT) per learner.

Learners access the Dealing with distressed callers course materials through our learning management system at their own convenience, making this the most versatile and flexible version of this course.

Learners cover the course modules independently, which can be beneficial if you have learners who may not be comfortable talking about mental health publicly. This online course is also a great choice for those that prefer to work through learning at their own pace and have time limitations.

Book Online Learning


Face-to-face learning (3.5 hour):

  • From £695 + VAT for group bookings of 6-12 learners at your place of work.

This involves students attending a physical course either in one of our training venues or at your own premises. Classroom based courses allow learners to interact face-to-face with their trainer and peers, helping build relationships and trust within a team. It typically involves group discussions, and practical activities to make the course interactive and engaging for all learning styles.

Virtual learning (3.5 hour):

  • From £520 + VAT for group bookings of 6-12 learners.

Our virtual learning is a live online class, and includes all the interactive simulations, and discussions you would expect to find in classroom-based learning. Virtual learning offers a range of benefits, including increased flexibility, convenience, and accessibility for learners.

This style of learning is suitable for all, but is particularly useful if you have a team spread over a large geographical area


Get in touch to find out more

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Learning and assessment

Assessment and certificate

This is not an assessed course. Learners will receive a certificate of learning after they have covered all the modules of the course and engaged in activities designed to help them develop the tools and resources they need to apply the skills in a real-life environment.

Entry Requirements

Suitable for all learners over the age of 16.

Mental health training can be emotionally challenging but our experienced trainers are skilled at helping individuals cope with any challenges that may arise during the training program. Some learners may experience unexpected emotions during the training as a result of past experiences. The course content is varied and may include relatable trauma or crisis experienced by some individuals.

If you, or your learners, have any concerns they wish to discuss prior to the course please get in touch with our team?



Will call centre staff or volunteers benefit from this course?

Yes. This course is specifically tailored for learners who may need to deal with distressed callers. Training offers many benefits to staff and volunteers including:

  • improved communication skills,
  • emotional resilience,
  • de-escalation techniques,
  • managing a call with professional empathy,
  • and overall confidence in their ability to deal with challenging situations.

Giving your team the right training will result in positive experiences for both your callers your team, with individuals getting the support they need when faced with a challenging situation and heightened emotions. Training can help reduce the impact on your staff and volunteers' own wellbeing.


What is meant by a distressed caller?

A distressed caller is an individual who contacts a helpline, customer service line, emergency service, or any other call centre while experiencing emotional distress. Distressed callers may exhibit a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, or panic. These emotions may be because of information they receive on the call such as having an insurance claim rejected.

Distressed callers often seek assistance, support, or a solution for their problems or situations, which is not always something a call handler is able to offer. The caller may be facing challenging life circumstances, such as a death, personal crises, mental health issue, domestic violence, financial difficulties, health emergencies, or any other distressing event or situation.

It is important for call handlers or customer service representatives to approach these callers with empathy and to hold the skills needed to provide appropriate support and signposting.


What types of job role could have to deal with distressed callers?

Many of us will routinely deal with distressed callers as part of our work but this may be in many different contexts. Here are a few examples:

  • Call Centre Staff.
  • Emergency Services Operators.
  • Mental Health Helpline Volunteers.
  • Social Workers.
  • Healthcare Professionals and staff in healthcare settings.
  • Human Resources Representatives.
  • Insurance services.

These are just a few examples, but many professionals and volunteers across different sectors may encounter upset callers in their work. It is essential for these individuals to receive appropriate training and support to effectively handle such situations with care and professionalism, whilst also protecting their own mental wellbeing.


Is this course suitable for new staff members who may have just been employed?

Yes, the British Red Cross’ dealing with distressed callers is suitable for new staff members who have just been employed. In fact, it can be highly beneficial to provide this training early on in their employment for several reasons:

Confidence Building: Dealing with difficult callers can be intimidating, especially for new staff members who are still getting familiar with their roles and responsibilities. This course can help build their confidence by providing them with techniques, strategies, and best practices to handle such interactions with professionalism and empathy.

Customer Service Excellence: Providing training on handling difficult callers helps new staff members develop a customer-centric mindset and understand the importance of providing excellent customer service, even in challenging situations. They can learn to navigate difficult emotions, actively listen, and find appropriate solutions, which contributes to positive customer experiences.

Reduction of Stress and Anxiety: For new (and existing) staff members, encountering distressed callers without prior training can be stressful and overwhelming. By providing them with the necessary tools to handle these situations, you can reduce their stress levels and anxiety, enabling them to approach such calls with more composure and effectiveness, as well as reducing the impact the calls will have on their own mental health at work.

Retention and Job Satisfaction: Investing in the training and development of new staff members demonstrates a commitment to their professional growth and wellbeing. By offering training, you create an environment that values their success and equips them with the skills needed for their role. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and employee retention.

It is important to remember that handling distressed callers requires ongoing support and reinforcement. The course should ideally be complemented by ongoing coaching, mentorship, or access to resources that help new staff members apply what they have learned and continue to refine their skills over time.


Do you offer other mental gealth courses?

If the Dealing with distressed callers course is not for you, we have other courses, ranging from 2 hours to 1 day, that may suit your Mental health at work training needs.