Collaboration with the University of the West Indies to host training in Psychological First Aid

25th September, 2019

The Caribbean region has been impacted by a variety of natural and man-made hazards that result in a trail of destruction in terms of loss of lives and property. These disasters result in significant social, economic and psychological consequences.

Montserrat has had its share of natural disasters including Hurricane Hugo and the volcanic eruption which resulted in deaths, social displacement and untold human suffering.

An important facet of any disaster and recovery plan is psychological support. Recognizing the limitations in relation to the cadre of persons trained in Mental Health and psychological support on island, the Ministry of Health and Social Services with support from the University of the West lndies (UWl) , will be hosting a Psychological First Aid training.The

Psychological First Aid (PFA) will take place from September 23 to 25,2019. PFA is a brief intervention that provides psycho-social support to individuals, families and communities in response to their exposure to a disaster or crisis situations. The primary aim of PFA as an initial intervention is to reduce distress, promote basic needs, deliver important information, connect people with available support networks and enhance long-term coping and functioning. Two sessions will be held each day.

Visiting Psychiatrist Dr Amrie Patterson sees this training as important to Montserrat’s overall preparation for disaster response considering the adverse weather events in Dominica, the British Virgin lslands and more recently the Bahamas. According to Dr. Patterson “This Psychological First Aid Training will provide participants with the knowledge and skills to assist individuals, families and communities to cope and function better in the short, medium and long-term post disaster or post crisis.”

This training targets a broad range of participants including health care workers, fire and emergency personnel, teachers, the Police and Prison Services, community leaders and volunteers. This training has generated great public interest and to date more than one hundred (100) persons have registered.

Mrs. Arlene Ponteen, Director, Secondary Care Services within the Ministry of Health and Social Services who also serves as the Deputy Health Disaster Coordinator sees this initiative as complementing the protocols already in place for disaster response. Mrs. Ponteen states that “given the potential impacts of disaster on people’s lives, including mental health, psycho-social support is important to the Ministry’s overall disaster preparedness, response, and management.”

This series of Psychological First Aid training will be facilitated by Dr. Michael Campbell, Psychologist and Professor at the University of the West lndies, Cave Hill Campus.

click here for pdf of: Psychological First Aid Guide for the Community