October 10, 2016
Life throws challenges at us at every step and weather these challenges are small or big, we are left at our own coping resources to deal with them. People find themselves in a state of emotional or physical crisis on a daily basis, from simpler stuff like financial and personal insecurities we move to more complex situations e.g. children are exposed to risk of physical and sexual abuse, work place stress and bullying are realities, women are often juggling between their social roles and dangers lurking in the streets, there is a rape victim somewhere in some part of this country, there are attacks on people in the name of religion, in terms of what kind of lifestyle they might want to lead, elderly are at risk of abuse and so on and so forth. These situations put the vulnerable individual at risk of developing psychological stress and mental maladies.
The WHO has dedicated this year’s Mental Health Day towards “Psycological first aid’. First aid in literal senses is the primary care that is provided in situations of any physical harm to a person. Psycological first aid aims at extending a helping hand to people who’ve gone through an immidate trauma, abuse, or any external life threatening incident. It’s a band-aid for a wound that might not cure the ailment but protects an individual from further harm. The people that can provide a Psycological first aid is not limited to only a medical health care provider, it can be the immediate family of the person, friend, people like NGO workers, policemen, fire fighters, paramedics. Psycological first aid term was drafted in 1940, however the relevance has grown over the last few years, due to rising war like situations, natural calamities like a tsunami/earthquakes , refugee crisis, or even interpersonal violence. The immidate care giver has to adept himself to tackle human emotions of stress, psycological damage, loss of sense of being, bereavement etc. It is essentially important for a care giver in such a situation to be ready to help but not enforce the help on the person dealing with trauma, it’s important to listen to their stories intently without judgment of any kind. For a first aid provider it is important to not expose the victim to further damage or even himself to damage of any kind.
If a victim isn’t comfortable talking about his/ her issues, the care provider shouldn’t in any circumstance force him to do so, the people affected the most with trauma are children, elderly, or people from a marginalised section of the society. Advanced and immediate attention might be required by people who are likely to harm themselves or others. An environment of seclusion is preferable to aid the victims, however it is not essential, it important for the caregiver to know till what extent he can lend a hand, social norms of a community should be respected in that sense.
In India where there is a visible lack of mental health care professionals, the overall 1% of the total national medical health budget is allocated for mental health. In third world economies & developing nations where the overall provision of medical facilities is scant mental Heatlh provision and awareness further takes a step back. However PFA in a country like ours could be of huge assistance when it comes to providing care to victims of abuse at home or work, poorer socio economic section of the society, children dealing with psycological issues and elders. An awareness through workshops for voulenteers, social workers, teachers, medical staff could assist to create an inviorment of protection around someone who’s dealing with trauma. In weaker sections of the society this immediate help could mean a lot, cause mostly it is this section of the society that doesn’t or cannot have access to proper psychiatric treatment due to lack of monetary support or lack of a unified health care policy like that in a developed economy. With PFA these sections of the society have a faint hope to get if not full fledged medical attention atleast basic pscological aid.
So this Mental Health day lets educate ourselves, volunteer to extend help, wherever we can, as whoever we are and reduce the pain and stigma associated with mental heart issues.
Let’s heal and get healed in the process.