“If somebody collapses due to a physical illness such as a heart attack in the work environment, at school, at a stadium, a concert, on public transport, in the street or at home, that person is likely to get help from somebody who knows about physical health first aid. If somebody experiences a severe acute anxiety state in these same places, for whatever reason psychological or mental health first aid is much less likely to be provided and people even walk away.” – Professor Gabriel Ivbijaro, President World Federation for Mental Health
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, with this year’s theme being ‘psychological and mental health first aid’. The term psychological first aid (PFA) describes the support provided to someone experiencing a crisis event or exposure to trauma. A crisis event can be both large scale and individual – whether it’s a natural disaster that affects an entire community, or an accident or assault affecting one person.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. Just like general health care never consists of physical fitness alone, similarly no mental health care system should consist of psychological first aid alone.”
- Giving non-intrusive, practical care and support
- Assessing people’s needs and concerns
- Helping people address basic needs
- Listening, but not pressuring people to talk
- Comforting people and helping them feel calm
- Helping people connect to information, services and social support
- Protecting people from further harm
Whether you’re a first responder, or simply an individual who has witnessed a crisis event in your community, learning the basic principles of psychological first aid can help you to provide appropriate support to someone who needs it.
Learn more on the WHO website.
The Mental Health Reform conference takes place in Sydney this November. Attend to learn how service providers can implement stepped care, increase integration and adapt to the sector reforms. Book by October 14th to save $100 on ticket prices.