Psychological First Aid (PFA), a palliative response to emergencies caused by emotional or psychological injuries before treatment by mental health experts, “is aimed at helping distressed people recently exposed to serious crisis or traumatic events, to enhance their immediate and ongoing safety”, as well as “provide physical or emotional comfort to help calm emotionally overwhelmed survivors and help them address their immediate concerns”.
These were part of the views expressed by Mental Health expert, James Ngutswen, at a training organised by Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) supported by Victims Support Fund (VSF) for over 30 community stakeholders including teachers, camp officials, community health workers and volunteers on how to identify severe psychological and emotional issues as well as administer PFA before the service of a mental health expert is sought.
In his presentation titled, “Understanding Psychological First Aid”, Ngutswen explained that trauma, which is a Greek word for “wound”, could either be physical trauma (visible wound) or psychological/emotional trauma (invisible wound) and charged participants to “help, support, advice, guide, assist and inform” trauma survivors by applying the “PFA Action principles of 3 Ls” namely, “Look, Listen and Link” to give them succour.
On her part, Clinical Psychologist, Mercy Ingyer, who spoke on the “Psychosocial Impact of SGBV and Psychological Needs of Survivors – The Benue State Experience”, maintained that SGBV survivors do need psychosocial support to enable them heal from the trauma of their harrowing experiences.
Outlining objectives of the training, Coordinating Officer for the intervention and ESLF’s Coordinating Programme Officer Health, Erdoo Yankya explained that it was aimed at building the capacity of participants to carry out Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for members of their community.
Speaking earlier, a PSS Support Staff from the Benue State Sustainable Development Goals Office, Mr. Donald Chagu explained that the Benue State Victims Support Fund Emergency Support Programme which commenced in April, 2022 to end this September, was the offshoot of an appeal by Governor Samuel Ortom to VSF to intervene in the plight of IDPs whose growing humanitarian demands go far beyond the capacity of the State Government alone.
Mr. Chagu noted that understanding the dire situation at the camps, VSF responded to the Governor’s call by setting up the Benue State VSF Emergency Support Programme in line with its mandate to cater for vulnerable persons.
Highpoints of the day’s activities included music and dance session as well as experience sharing by participants.