The Psychological Bandage

So how can we equip ourselves to help others in distress? 

Think of how we use first aid to help with injuries or illness. There’s common sense and then there’s training that anyone might do to equip them better to handle situations, understanding CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) for example.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) works on a similar basis – applying a psychological bandage. It’s intended to achieve 3 things – to prevent distress from worsening, to calm or de-escalate acute distress, and facilitate access to additional support if necessary. It doesn’t involve any kind of diagnosis or treatment, but some basic training is really helpful and reduces the risk of inadvertently making thing worse.

The World Health Organisation has worked with all kinds of crises and disasters around the world and say that:

People do better over the long term if they
– Feel safe, connected to others, calm & hopeful
– Have access to social, physical & emotional support
– Regain a sense of control by being able to help themselves

If you’re interested in finding out more about Psychological First Aid, this online training course is available free via Future Learn. This course has been produced by Public Health England and is based on international guidance from the World Health Organisation, United Nations and partners.

Click here to view the Psychological First Aid course

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