‘Public can learn how to apply psychological first aid in crises’

National 1 minute, 50 seconds


FRONTLINE professionals and volunteers in the community should learn the principles of psychological first aid (PFA) to help support people who are facing crises and traumatic events, said the head of the Ministry of Health’s Clinical Psychology Services.

Alinah Hj Tamin said yesterday that the ministry is making a public effort to advocate for the understanding and use of PFA based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines through roadshows.

“PFA is not something that only healthcare professionals can do,” said Alinah at a celebration for World Mental Health Day at Sentral Shopping Centre.

“Using the WHO steps of look, listen and link, members of the public can offer meaningful help during a time where someone is going through a tragedy.”

The simplified three-step approach involves looking out for those visibly distressed, listening to their needs and concerns and helping link them to support networks which can include contacting family members or connecting them with hospitals and health centres for further psychological help from healthcare professionals.

Frontline responders are typically leaders or individuals in the community who deal with bigger groups of people which include law enforcement, teachers and volunteers.

In the context of Brunei, PFA has been implemented during tragic events with multiple fatalities including two separate incidents in Sabah involving a bus accident and a Universiti Brunei Darussalam field trip as well as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces helicopter accident in 2012.

Alinah believes that deploying PFA more widely in appropriate scenarios will also increase the public’s awareness and acceptance of providing mental health support.

Yesterday’s roadshow by MoH was their second on mental health in Belait in less than a year, which Alinah says represents a wider effort by the ministry to extend knowledge over their services.

“We don’t want to leave (healthcare) behind in the other districts.

“Mental health is a very important part of one’s overall (health), and we want to reduce the stigma in coming forward to talk about it. And to do so, we must reach out nationwide.”

The roadshow also included a booth where a locally produced 10-minute video was displayed portraying a scenario of social stigma surrounding mental health in a local setting.

The Brunei Times