This widely recognized guide from WHO, ‘Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers‘, is a comprehensive and friendly companion to field workers when faced with a distressing event. It addresses the practical aspects of delivering psychological assistance to persons impacted by a crisis situation: humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events. It is written for people in a position to help others who have experienced an extremely distressing event. It gives a framework for supporting people in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities. Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both social and psychological support. It has been published in multiple languages available here.
Consider how you can best manage your own stress, to support and be supported by your fellow helpers
The following is an extract from the WHO publication, ‘Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers‘. The full publication is available here.
As a helper, you may feel responsible for people’s safety and care. You may witness or even directly experience terrible things, such as destruction, injury, death or violence. You may also hear stories of other people’s pain and suffering. All of these experiences can affect you and your fellow helpers.
Consider how you can best manage your own stress, to support and be supported by your fellow helpers. The following suggestions may be helpful in managing your stress.
# Think about what has helped you cope in the past and what you can do to stay strong.
# Try to take time to eat, rest and relax, even for short periods.
# Try to keep reasonable working hours so you do not become too exhausted. Consider, for example, dividing the workload among helpers, working in shifts during the acute phase of the crisis and taking regular rest periods.
# People may have many problems after a crisis event. You may feel inadequate or frustrated when you cannot help people with all of their problems. Remember that you are not responsible for solving all of people’s problems. Do what you can to help people help themselves.
# Minimize your intake of alcohol, caffeine or nicotine and avoid nonprescription drugs.
# Check in with fellow helpers to see how they are doing, and have them check in with you. Find ways to support each other.
# Talk with friends, loved ones or other people you trust for support.
Download the guide
Complete guide in English here.
French language version here.
Additional languages here.