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Psychological First Aid

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Mental illnesses. it is a silent destroyer, the leading cause of disability in North America. Approximately 20%  will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime – that’s 1 of 5 people you know. And many are still left undiagnosed, untreated, unknown.

Since 1992, October 10th marks a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy. this year’s theme – as determined by the world federation for mental health – is ‘dignity in mental health-psychological & mental health first aid for all‘.

I’m going to highlight the fact that this theme is not only important for mental health sufferers, but also (arguably more importantly) for the people in their social/support network.

Often, the case is that we know someone who is struggling from a mental illness but do not how to approach the situation: what should we say/not say? What kind of support do we give? How far is too far? the psychological first aid (PFA) and mental health first aid (MHFA) methods are two ways YOU can make a difference and help – don’t just be a bystander, take action.


what is PFA?

  • “… involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings who have suffered a serious crisis event.” (WHO, 2011)

main themes of PFA (WHO PFA guide, 2011):

  • non-intrusive practical care and support
  • assessing needs and concerns
  • helping people to address basic needs
  • listening, but not pressuring people to talk
  • comforting and helping people feel calm
  • helping people connect to information, services, and social supports
  • protecting people from further harm

look, listen, link

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