Over 60 Irish Red Cross volunteers have been trained in Psychological First Aid in a bid to combat the negative impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health.
The training, which is delivered online, equips the volunteers with the necessary skills to provide support to people who may be feeling isolated, upset or worried about the pandemic.
Although the Irish Red Cross is synonymous with providing traditional first aid, volunteers who have completed the course have been trained to recognise the signs of emotional distress too.
Speaking ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, October 10. Aiden Lonergan, National Community Support Officer for the Irish Red Cross said, “During times of crisis people can be impacted psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically. This training equips our volunteers with the skills they need to help those who may be in a distressed state.”
The psychological first aid (PFA) training, which has been funded by Aviva Ireland, teaches volunteers to assess the situation remotely, listen to a person’s concerns, and help them to access services, tackle practical problems and connect with loved ones or social supports.
Although the PFA training is currently focused on how to help people who are experiencing distress due to Covid-19, the same skills can be used to deliver support to someone who is in crisis, lost a loved one, or been a bystander to a medical emergency.
“The support provided by our volunteers, which in many cases is delivered in the community in an informal manner, can really help reduce the effects of stressful incidents on a person’s mental health. The psychological first aid training simply gives our volunteers the skills to react to people who are feeling vulnerable in an ever-changing environment and help them in regaining control of the situation,” Aiden added.
Brian O’Neill, Head of CSR and External Communications at Aviva Ireland said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Irish Red Cross at this time. The outbreak of Covid-19 and the negativity associated with the virus, including the impact on many livelihoods, can have an effect on people’s mental health.
"It is important that volunteers are fully trained to support those with psychological as well as physical issues. In the future we’d like to encourage our own staff to volunteer for the training as we believe it will be beneficial for them.”