Updated: Jul 11
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a branch of humanitarian relief that deals with reducing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress in individuals. A plethora of crises, such as wars, natural disasters, school shootings, and terrorist attacks, have plagued the world for a very long time. But it is only in recent years that Psychological First Aid has been brought to light.
The first step to understanding its importance is in realizing that physical and mental health requires the same weightage. The treatment of mental health after a traumatic event can positively affect a person’s social, emotional and psychological well-being. These factors are essential in order to regain normalcy in one’s life, after suffering through a crisis.
The 5 phases of Psychological First Aid are as follows.
1. Listening to them
The traumas faced by people could be of varying magnitude. However, regardless of what they have faced, it is essential that you listen to them at all times. The act of listening, helps them connect with you, and lightens the heaviness in their chests. Most of the time, trauma-victims feel the need to talk about what happened, and sometimes it might be repetitive. But this is only their natural instinct and the only way they see fit to deal with the issue. What you would need to do, is listen to them patiently and offer constant reassurance, without judging them for their actions.
2. Offering Protection
A sense of protection for the victims is essential, immediately following the traumatic event. This can be offered, firstly by acknowledging that the post-traumatic stress is real. Next, it is important to ensure that they feel a sense of normalcy. Bringing about the general sense of normalcy will help quicken their recovery since it reminds them of the times before the event.
3. Connecting with them
Building an emotional connection with the victims helps them overcome social and emotional barriers that might have sparked after the event. Especially for children, teachers can re-establish emphatic bonds, since they often suffer silently not knowing how to talk about the issue. Studies show that just one important person in their life, outside of their family, such as a teacher, can help them in all aspects of school such as their grades, attendance, and graduation.
4. Model Behaviour
Exposing the victims to model behavior that they must follow is essential to teach them how to get over the event. This can be by exhibiting emotions of calmness and a sense of realistic optimism. They will have to learn to believe in their community and believe that the event will not transpire again in the future.
5. Teaching them
Teaching the victims the science behind the emotions they’re facing and reassuring them about the validity of such feelings, is important to let them know they aren’t alone. The trajectory of dealing with such an event is oftentimes identical amongst individuals. The first step to healing from such an event is in accepting that everything they’re facing is normal.
How can Psychological First Aid help in the current nation-wide pandemic?
The COVID-19 epidemic that has swiftly swept through the nation, has caused a lot of emotional distress and panic amongst the citizens of the country. There are people who have lost loved ones or have contracted the disease themselves. Along with the medicines and physical aid that doctors are administering, it is important that we as a nation offered emotional support to one another, in a bid to overcome this period of grief.
Calling up relatives, friends, and colleagues and offering them emotional strength and the courage to face the situation is essential in order to speed up the process of recovery. The Placebo Effect is a medical term related to the beneficial effect of a treatment brought about by a positive mindset. This, in retrospect, can only be brought upon by a wholesome, supportive community.
Overall it is important to remember that PFA isn't only required to be administered by doctors, but can be dealt with by normal people. All you need is a sense of empathy, understanding, and humanity. Just as important as it is to deliver Physical First Aid, it is also essential to offer Psychological First Aid to avoid repercussions that might worsen later. me, supportive community.
If you’re interested in learning more about PFA, be sure to check out this link for a certificated course - https://www.coursera.org/learn/psychological-first-aid