When terrible things happen in our communities, we can reach out a helping hand to those who are affected. Perhaps you find yourself at the scene of an accident where people are hurt. Perhaps you are a health-care worker or teacher talking with someone from your community who has just witnessed the violent death of a loved one. Perhaps you are called upon as a staff member in a disaster or volunteer to help asylum seekers who have recently arrived in your community. Learning the basic principles of psychological first aid will help you to provide support to people who are very distressed, and, importantly, to know what not to say.
The theme of this year's World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, covers "psychological first aid". Efforts in support of the day will focus on basic pragmatic psychological support by people who find themselves in a helping role whether they be health staff, teachers, firemen, community workers, or police officers.
Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. Just like general health care never consists of physical first aid alone, similarly no mental health care system should consist of psychological first aid alone. Indeed, the investment in psychological first aid is part of a longer-term effort to ensure that anyone in acute distress due to a crisis is able to receive basic support, and that those who need more than psychological first aid will receive additional advanced support from health, mental health and social services.
- Psychological first aid: preserving dignity in crisis response. WHO paper for the World Federation of Mental Health
- Psychological first aid for all. Power point presentation on psychological first aid.
- Supporting people following crisis events. One pager on Psychological First Aid
- pdf Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers
- Psychological first aid: facilitator guide
- pdf Building Back Better
- pdf mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG)
- Problem Management Plus (PM+). Individual psychological help for adults impaired by distress in communities exposed to adversity
- pdf Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Disaster Situations in the Caribbean
- Assessing mental health and psychosocial needs and resources:Toolkit for humanitarian settings