How does one provide basic psychological first aid to persons affected by crisis? How about recognising signs of stress and establishing a human connection in a non-intrusive and compassionate manner?
A group of 15 youth activists and volunteers in the areas of community development and humanitarian work discussed these issues at a full-day “Psychological First Aid” training held on Saturday, 20 October, jointly organised by the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) and Singapore Red Cross.
As crises and emergencies are often sudden, the affected people and community will be exposed to uncertainty and stress. Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a humane, supportive and practical first response given to people or persons in emotional distress during or immediately after a crisis. Facilitated by Ms Faiszah Abdul Hamid, Head of Singapore Red Cross Academy, the training gave participants an understanding and knowledge on the different types of crisis events, and the possible ways to manage and cope with stress and emotional distress. Participants were also able to learn the basics of providing psychological first aid to affected persons in everyday life and emergencies.
According to a participant, Muhammad Hanif Abdul Wahab, the skills gained can be used not only in the professional space but also in personal engagements as well. He said: “PFA is necessary not just for people during humanitarian and community work. We can even use this on a day-to-day basis to support families and friends in distress. This will help me to improve the way I interact with my family, peers and general members of the public. As a volunteer, I engage local and overseas beneficiaries as well and this is a skill that goes beyond language barriers. I believe FPA can really help in escalating and forming relationships within a short time.”
Meanwhile, Regional Operations Coordinator of Save the Children, Ms Ser Mu Ying finds that the training has given her an increased sense of self-awareness and challenge her self-biasness. She said: “The training has opened my eyes to understand more about PFA and unpack what exactly it’s about and challenge my understanding of it. I walk away from this training with a set of tools that I can apply depending on different scenarios. I am also able to understand my strengths and limitations in approaching situations where I can potentially apply PFA – including in my personal life and at my work with the Save the Children Regional Office.”
Commenting on the training, Executive Director of RLAF, Mr Zainul Abidin Ibrahim said: “Psychological First Aid is part of a series of training programmes by RLAF to empower youth with support and coping skills to be ready to serve and volunteer in community service and humanitarian work. As disruptions are increasingly impacting our lives, such knowledge will help youth to be effective and contributing members of the society.’’ The Foundation had previously organised three training programmes this year namely “Foundations for an Effective Humanitarian Volunteer”, “Design Thinking and Project Management in Community Development Projects” and “Art Therapy: Facilitating the Healing of Survivors of Abuse and Trauma.”
The PFA course was RLAF’s fourth training of the year and has helped them empower more than 120 volunteers with knowledge and skillsets that are necessary for development and humanitarian work.