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World Mental Health Day theme - Psychological First Aid

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is psychological first aid for all. Psychological first aid (PFA) describes a humane, supportive response to a fellow human being who is suffering and who may need support.

PFA involves the following themes:
» providing practical care and support, which does not intrude;
» assessing needs and concerns;
» helping people to address basic needs (for example, food and water, information);
» listening to people, but not pressuring them to talk;
» comforting people and helping them to feel calm;
» helping people connect to information, services and social supports;
» protecting people from further harm.

PFA involves factors that seem to be most helpful to people’s long-term recovery:
» feeling safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful;
» having access to social, physical and emotional support; and
» feeling able to help themselves, as individuals and communities.

A full guide can be found here

Clearly if we are aiming to provide PFA for all, this isn’t the realm of specialist services. It’s an approach we can all use when we find people in crises following traumatic events. It is worth spending time looking at how you can apply this approach in your day to day work, as an individual worker, as a team and as part of the wider mental health system.

We know that many people (at least 1 in 4) need support to manage a myriad of mental health and wellbeing issues and that there are a myriad of services out there to support people. Community Links provide a wide range across Yorkshire and the Humber from IAPT to social prescribing to Early intervention in Psychosis, not forgetting our training which includes mental health first aid. As a mental health community we need to work to ensure that those who need support get the best, first response they could wish for (PFA) and can get to the service that is best placed to support them as fast as possible. Right service, first time, every time.

In Leeds an exciting new development is being launched; MindWell the new mental health information hub, which goes live on 10 October, World Mental Health Day. MindWell aims to be the first port of call for anyone wishing to find general information, self-management information and digital tools, which enable people to take more control of their health and wellbeing, in ways that suit them. This, coupled with a supportive response when asking for help, are big steps in the right direction.