Psychological First Aid Training to Address COVID‑19 Related Stressors
Emerging evidence tells us that the COVID‑19 pandemic will have far-reaching impacts on the emotional and psychological well-being of adults and children. Recent reports also indicate that COVID‑19 is likely to result in an economic recession and that the psychological and emotional effects of the pandemic for vulnerable populations – namely children and their families – will endure well beyond the virus’ physical impacts. Despite the fact that there is evidence that Psychological First Aid (PFA) could minimize the emotional and psychological toll related to COVID-19, PFA training has not been a focus of the pandemic response in Canada. According to the World Health Organization, PFA is a brief-intervention that provides targeted and practical psychological support to help individuals manage distress related to large crises, such as a pandemic. PFA is widely endorsed by global public health authorities, including the WHO and the United Nations, and has been used to provide widespread psychological and emotional support to the public during extreme events (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) and other viral pandemics (e.g., the Ebola Outbreak). We have chosen to implement and evaluate a PFA training program for mental health counselors – called LIVES for Families – to see if it supports them to address COVID‑19 emotional and psychological stressors experienced by caregivers and their children. Reducing the potential burden of child and family suffering attributed to COVID‑19 remains a crucial public health challenge. Our work will provide information about: (a) the acceptability and feasibility of implementing the LIVES for Families PFA Training Program with mental health counselors to address COVID-19-related stressors among caregivers and their children; and (b) generate the initial research necessary to develop an evidence-based, COVID‑19 PFA training program for widespread implementation and evaluation in the Canadian context.