New year. Same you. Now what?January 5, 2023
CommunicationJanuary 26, 2023
Our bodies are not the only part of us that occasionally need first aid. Psychological First Aid (PFA) skills can help support those around us experiencing a mental health crisis. Like counselling, the aid provider establishes a connection with compassion and non-judgment. PFA can take place before an expected stressful event, during or after a crisis experience has taken place. PFA providers must maintain the Do No Harm Principles of Protection, Respect, Integrity, Dignity, and Empathy. The goal is to provide immediate help, not on-site therapy; therefore, many people can provide support.
By considering the action principles of PFA: Look, Listen, and Link, a carer should look for signs of stress or distress, both verbal and non-verbal. They should ensure no signs of injury exist and that individuals have their basic needs covered. PFA providers must remain calm and open, listening effectively and asking questions to ensure they are not making assumptions about the situation. The care provider should then help connect the individual with resources and support networks.
Individuals can use psychological first aid on themselves too!
Perhaps you aren’t sure how to identify your stress levels. You can look for common signs of stress such as an upset stomach, forgetfulness, excessive tiredness or acting in unusual ways such as withdrawing or an increase in risky behaviours. You can also listen to your gut or feelings. Recognize feelings such as unusual irritation or cynicism, and question your thoughts and emotions. Are they common? When do you usually have these reactions?
If you know you will be headed into a high-stress situation, are experiencing higher-than-normal stress, or even a crisis, identifying your physical and psychological reactions is a good start. Then identifying supports within family, friends, and community can be helpful, as well as drawing on one’s faith or considering previous successes and moments of resiliency. If these moments occur frequently, then developing healthy coping strategies can help ease some of the symptoms, such as taking a walk, or reevaluating your personal expectations, or you may seek professional help through therapy or support groups.
There are opportunities for training in Psychological First Aid through the Canadian Red Cross and other organizations. Additionally, the Canadian Red Cross, World Health Organization, and others offer pocket guides and handouts. For more information or to book an appointment, Contact Us – please call 250-718-9291 or email us at email@example.com
Written by: Olivia Donaher, MACP
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