Welcome to Nnaedozie Thomas Foundation!
NTFNTFNTF
(Mon - Friday)
(10am - 3:30 pm)
Seje 2 Zone, Okeogne Atura bus stop, Badagry, Lagos
NTFNTFNTF

Mainstreaming psychological first aid response during a disaster

  • Home
  • Articles
  • Mainstreaming psychological first aid response during a disaster
Mainstreaming psychological first aid response during disaster

Why psychological first aid is essential during disasters

Psychological first aid is essential during disasters because it helps people cope with the event’s stress and trauma. It can also help to prevent further distress and mental health problems in the aftermath of a disaster.

Psychological first aid is a relatively new concept, but it is based on well-established principles of psychology and mental health. It is an evidence-based approach that is effective in helping people to recover from traumatic events.

The main aim of psychological first aid is to reduce the immediate distress that people are experiencing and to promote their psychological and social recovery. It is not designed to be a long-term treatment for mental health problems, but it can help to prevent these from developing.

Psychological first aid is typically provided by trained professionals, such as mental health workers, social workers, and counselors. However, it can also be provided by laypeople who have received some training in how to do it.

There are several approaches to psychological first aid, but all share some common elements. These include providing support, reassurance, and practical help; listening to people’s needs and concerns; and helping them to access further help if necessary.

Psychological first aid is integral to disaster response and should be available to all who need it. It is a simple, practical, and effective way to help people cope with a disaster’s stress and trauma and prevent further mental health problems from developing.

How to provide psychological first aid during disasters

Psychological first aid is an approach to helping people in the aftermath of a disaster or traumatic event. It is based on the premise that providing support and practical assistance in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event can reduce the long-term effects of psychological trauma.

The psychological first-aid approach was first developed by the World Health Organization in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, it has been adopted by several disaster relief organizations, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The psychological first-aid approach has five main components:

  1. Listening to and supporting people in distress
  2.  Helping people to make sense of what has happened
  3.  Promoting coping and resilience
  4.  Connecting people with social support
  5.  Providing practical assistance
  6.  Listening to and supporting people in distress

The first step in providing psychological first aid is to listen to and support people who are in distress. This can be done by providing a safe and calm environment and actively listening to people’s experiences and feelings.

Helping people to make sense of what has happened

The second step is to help people make sense of what has happened. This can be done by providing information about the disaster or event and helping people process their experiences and feelings.

Promoting coping and resilience

The third step is to promote coping and resilience. This can be done by helping people identify and use their strengths and resources and providing information about coping with stress and trauma.

Connecting people with social support

The fourth step is to connect people with social support. This can be done by providing information about available support services and helping people connect with family, friends, and other community members.

Providing practical assistance

The fifth and final step is to provide practical assistance. This can be done by helping people meet their basic needs and providing information about access to essential services.

The benefits of psychological first aid during disasters

Psychological first aid (PFA) is an evidence-based intervention that can be used to support people who have been exposed to a disaster or mass trauma. PFA is made to lessen the immediate discomfort brought on by the tragedy and to encourage long-term rehabilitation.

PFA is based on the premise that providing support and practical assistance in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event can reduce the negative psychological impact and promote resilience. PFA is not intended to substitute for professional mental health care, but it can be an essential part of a comprehensive response to a disaster.

PFA is effective in various settings, including after natural disasters, mass shootings, and terrorist attacks. PFA has also been used to support refugees and asylum seekers.

There are several reasons why PFA can be an effective intervention after a disaster. PFA can provide immediate support to people in distress and help reduce the psychological impact of the event. PFA can promote resilience by helping people identify and use their strengths and resources.

PFA is an evidence-based intervention that can be used to support people who have been exposed to a disaster or mass trauma. PFA’s goal is to encourage long-term rehabilitation while easing the immediate distress brought on by the occurrence.

PFA is based on the premise that providing support and practical assistance in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event can reduce the negative psychological impact and promote resilience. PFA is not intended to substitute for professional mental health care, but it can be an essential part of a comprehensive response to a disaster.

PFA is effective in various settings, including after natural disasters, mass shootings, and terrorist attacks. PFA has also been used to support refugees and asylum seekers.

There are several reasons why PFA can be an effective intervention after a disaster. PFA can provide immediate support to people in distress and help reduce the psychological impact of the event. PFA can also promote resilience by helping people to identify and use their strengths and resources.

PFA is an evidence-based intervention that can be used to

The challenges of providing psychological first aid during disasters

Psychological first aid (PFA) is an evidence-informed modular approach to help children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism. PFA is guided by the premise that providing support immediately after a traumatic event can help reduce the intensity of the stress response and foster psychological resilience.

PFA is not intended to substitute professional mental health care but to complement existing services. PFA is not therapy or counseling but focuses on practical support and interventions to reduce distress and promote coping in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.

The goal of PFA is to reduce initial distress and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning. PFA interventions are designed to:

  1. Provide support
  2.  Connect people with social supports
  3.  Promote coping and problem-solving
  4.  Address basic needs

PFA is delivered through one-on-one or group interactions, depending on the needs of the survivors. Trained laypeople, such as Red Cross volunteers and professional mental health providers, can deliver PFA.

Several challenges can arise when providing PFA in the aftermath of a disaster. First, it can be challenging to access survivors in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, as they may be displaced or living in areas that are difficult to reach. Second, survivors may be reluctant to seek help, especially if they perceive it as a sign of weakness. 

It is important to emphasize that PFA is not therapy but is aimed at providing practical support and interventions.

Third, providers may encounter language barriers, as survivors speak a different language or dialect. It is essential to have trained interpreters available. Fourth, providers may also encounter cultural barriers, as survivors may have different cultural beliefs and practices. 

It is essential to be respectful of these differences and to work to build trust with survivors.

1 Comment

Leave A Comment