School counsellors and representatives learn more about psychological First Aid | 18 May 2020
In preparation for the re-opening of primary and secondary schools, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development organised a psychosocial training in partnership with the Red Cross last Saturday at the Seychelles Institute for Teacher Education (Site).
This half-day session was attended by school counsellors and deputies, private school representatives, representatives from primary and secondary schools and professional centres.
Colette Servina, a volunteer at the Red Cross, conducted the training on psychological First Aid and she was happy to note the interactive participation of those attending the course.
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a technique designed to reduce the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder. It was developed by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (NC-PTSD), a section of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2006. It has been spread by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the American Psychological Association (APA) and many others.
“PFA is applied in an emergency situation. It is the basic attention that you give to somebody who is in distress and we know that crisis brings along distress and uncertainties. It is also the ability to listen and identify issues that the person is facing, so this is where PFA comes in. PFA is something that we do every day but it is important for teachers to address this as COVID-19 has brought along lots of uncertainties,” explained Ms Servina.
Red Cross has conducted such a session with firstly their volunteers and then for SCCA staff and other volunteers from other non-governmental organisations. They do have other requests to conduct such training with other organisations.
Ms Servina added that during COVID-19, they are receiving queries from individuals as well regarding the different measures in force during this time.
“I hope this session is helpful. We do PFA every day and it’s only putting it in context. The session will also serve to affirm or confirm what we are saying is right and what we are doing the right thing.”
Various topics were covered during that half-day session such as what is PFA? When and where do we do PFA? What is a crisis?
The five components of psychological First Aid are to:
• Create a sense of safety. Creating a sense of safety means you communicate to the brain's fight or flight system that the stressful situation is over;
• Create calm. This is important both before and while responding;
• Create self and collective efficacy;
• Create connection; and
• Create hope.
Catriona Monthy from the Ministry of Education also helped in the smooth running of the session.