The UN’s theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Psychological First Aid”.
This places the focus on basic pragmatic psychological support by people who find themselves in a helping role whether they be health staff, teachers, firefighters, community workers, or police officers.
By using psychological first aid to reach out to those affected by terrible things that happen in our communities those people will do better over the long term because 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
Psychological First Aid Basics
Good things to say and do:
• Try to find a quiet place to talk and minimise outside distractions.
• Stay near the person but keep an appropriate distance depending on their age, gender and culture.
• Let them know you hear what they are saying, for example, nod your head and stay attentive
• Be patient and calm.
• Provide factual information IF you have it. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. “I don’t know but I will try to find out about that for you.”
• Give information in a way the person can understand – keep it simple.
• Acknowledge how they are feeling, and any losses or important events they share with you, such as loss of home or death of a loved one. “I’m so sorry… ”
• Respect privacy. Keep the person’s story confidential, especially when they disclose very private events.
• Acknowledge the person’s strengths and how they have helped themselves.
Things NOT to say and do:
• Don’t pressure someone to tell their story.
• Don’t interrupt or rush someone’s story.
• Don’t give your opinions of the person’s situation, just listen.
• Don’t touch the person if you’re not sure it is appropriate to do so.
• Don’t judge what they have or haven’t done, or how they are feeling. Don’t say…”You shouldn’t
feel that way.” or “You should feel lucky you survived.”
• Don’t make up things you don’t know.
• Don’t use too technical terms.
• Don’t tell them someone else’s story.
• Don’t talk about your own troubles.
• Don’t give false promises or false reassurances.
• Don’t feel you have to try to solve all the person’s problems for them.
• Don’t take away the person’s strength and sense of being able to care for themselves.
Self-Care as a Helper:
– Are you ready to help?
– Are you connected with a others/a group/organisation for safety and coordination?
– How can you stay physically and emotionally healthy?
– How can you know your limits?
– How can you and your peers support one another?
– How can you take time to rest, recover and reflect?
If you, or someone you know needs help – the best thing you can do is to seek professional help.
Peta Murphy, hypnotherapist and psychologist is here to support you.
Please book online or call (02) 4226 4740