Associate Professor Leanne Humphreys: There are strategies that can be employed during and immediately after a disaster to help support the psychological wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Phoenix Australia endorses a best practice framework that articulates three different levels of support that can be provided according to the phase of disaster and the levels of distress experienced.
Level 1 interventions, for example Psychological First Aid (PFA), can be implemented as a disaster is unfolding, and comprise the timely provision of meaningful information and practical advice and support.
PFA can be offered by a range of practitioners and training as a mental health professional is not necessary. Sometimes in the immediate aftermath of disaster, individuals will experience transient psychosocial difficulties and a range of evidence-based, or simple psychological strategies can be provided to address these difficulties as they occur, and in an attempt to support recovery and prevent the development of other more significant psychological disorders.
The effective provision of PFA as well as these simple psychological strategies not only rests on being appropriately trained, but on actively attending to your own wellbeing during these challenging times.