Psychological First Aid

Psychological First Aid

Psychological first aid action principles
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a framework consisting of three action principles to assist in the delivery of psychological first aid.
These principles provide guidance for how to view and safely enter an emergency situation(LOOK) in order to understand the needs of affected people (LISTEN) and link them with the information and practical support they need (LINK).
Important questions and messages to consider when using psychological first aid
Check for safety
• What dangers can you observe, e.g. damaged road, unstable buildings, fire, flooding etc?
• Ask if you can be there safely without harming yourself or others
• If you are not certain that the area is safe, then DO NOT GO!
Check for people with obvious urgent basic needs

  • Does anyone need emergency first aid?
  • Do people need urgent protection (e.g. clothing)?
  • Are there any people who might need special attention?
  • Know your role and try to obtain help for people who need special assistance or who have obvious urgent basic needs
    Check for people with serious distress reactions
    • Are there people who are extremely upset, immobile, not responding to others, disturbing others, or in shock?
    • Where and who are the most distressed people?
    • Consider who may benefit from psychological first aid and how you can best help.
  • Actions
  • Check for safety.
  • Check for people with obvious urgent basic needs.
  • Check for people with serious distress reactions.
  • Approach people who may need support.
  • Ask about people’s needs and concerns.
  • Listen to people and help them to feel calm.
  • Help people address basic needs and access services.
  • Help people cope with problems.
  • Give information.
  • Connect people with loved ones and social support.

Approach people who may need support

  • Approach people respectfully and according to cultural norms
  • Introduce yourself by name and organisation
  • Ask if you can provide help
  • If possible, find a quiet and safe place to talk
  • Help the person feel comfortable
    Ask about the people’s needs and concerns
  • Address any obvious needs. For example, if a person’s clothing is torn or they need a blanket
  • Always ask for people’s needs and concerns
  • Do not assume you know
  • Find out what is most important to them at this moment
  • Help them work out what their priorities are
    Listen to people and help them to feel calm
  • Stay close to the person
  • Do not pressure the person to talk
  • Listen in case they want to talk about what happened
  • If they are very distressed help them to feel calm and try to make sure they are not alone

Help people address basic needs and access services
• For example, food, water, shelter, material needs
• Learn what specific needs people have and try to link them to available assistance
• Do not make promises you cannot keep
Help people cope with problems
• Help identify their most urgent practical needs and assist with prioritising
• Help the person identify support people
• Give practical suggestions for people to meet their own needs (e.g. how to register with Centrelink etc)
Give information

  • Find out where to get information and updates
  • Try to get as much information as you can before approaching people with support
  • Keep updated
  • Only say what you know
    Connect people with loved ones and social support
    • Keep families together and children with their parents
    • Help people to contact friends or relatives.
    • If prayer or religious practice is important people may benefit from being linked with their spiritual base
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