GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – 10 October marked World Mental Health Day around the world. The theme is “Psychological First Aid.” The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department from the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says that World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity for people and organizations around the world working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
The observations and creating awareness of the annual theme is part of CPSs annual calendar of health observances. Mental health refers to an array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the World Health Organization’s definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.” It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders. When terrible things happen in our communities, we can reach out a helping hand to those who are affected. Perhaps you find yourself at the scene of an accident where people are hurt.
Perhaps you are a health-care worker or teacher talking with someone from your community who has just witnessed the violent death of a loved one. Learning the basic principles of psychological first aid will help you to provide support to people who are very distressed, and, importantly, to know what not to say. Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both psychological and social support. Just like general health care never consists of physical first aid alone, similarly no mental health care system should consist of psychological first aid alone.
Indeed, the investment in psychological first aid is part of a longer-term effort to ensure that anyone in acute distress due to a crisis is able to receive basic support, and that those who need more than psychological first aid will receive additional advanced support from health, mental health and social services.