The Psychological Bandage
by Carolyn Barber
The Covid 19 pandemic is affecting many of us in unexpected ways. In the responses to the survey we circulated during May, a number of people expressed concern about neighbours, friends or family members who have been distressed for various reasons. There's extensive research evidence of the psychological impact of quarantine, disasters and ongoing stressors such as finances or housing. With Covid 19, we have all three. Certain groups can be identified as most at risk - frontline staff, high risk groups such as people with health conditions, disabilities, caring responsibilities, experience of domestic violence and so on. But many of those not 'at risk' will also experience unexpected periods of psychological distress.
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
If you're feeling worried or anxious yourself, you might want to take a look at the Working Through Worry course available via our free Mental Wealth Academy Summer Online programme, and starting next week - see below to access the link to more details and how to sign up.
Click here to find out more
We recognise that this has been an incredibly challenging time, coping with sudden and dramatic changes in our lives, intense feelings, anxiety about the future, loss of contact with loved ones, experience of illness and bereavement.
At the Good Mental Health Cooperative, we believe that connecting with others, and informal arts and wellbeing learning activities, are really important ways to take care of our mental health, and build the emotional resilience we need to get though these difficult times.
The programme takes place mainly through July and August, and includes the following: