SRINAGAR: At a time when victims and their families in Kashmir are grappling with mental and emotional disorders, Help Foundation and Directorate of Health Services Kashmir on Thursday jointly organised the first-ever workshop on Psychological First Aid (PFA) in the Valley.
Around 40 individuals from different professions, including advocates, counsellors, journalists, teachers, social workers, and doctors, participated in the workshop held here.
“PFA is humane, supportive and practical assistance to fellow human beings who recently suffered exposure to serious stressors,” explained Dr Muzaffar, a clinical psychologist with Help Foundation, in his presentation.
Dr Muzaffar said they visited many hospitals during the ongoing uprising and found psychological medical aid lacking in the people’s efforts to take care of their basic needs.
“People are not oriented to provide themselves with psychological first aid during turmoil. This workshop is one such initiative to train people from different professions in how to give a healing touch to the people in need,” he said.
“When we talk about the PFA, these are not professional counsellors or professional doctors who can give psychological aid. It is a common people who should know what psychological aid is.”
He said one should wait and see when it is appropriate to talk to the victim.
“The foremost thing is to take care of the victim’s basic things first,” he said.
Dr Muzaffar said that they will train NGOs, doctors, journalists, students, and lawyers in the forthcoming workshops and training sessions in an attempt to reach more victims with the PFA.
The doctors who spoke at the event stressed on the need to avoid forcing a victim to speak.
They said the people feel better if they feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful, have access to support, and regain a sense of control by being able to help themselves.
Prepare, look, listen, and link are the four important things to keep in mind while meeting victim and to know their state of mind, they said.
The doctors said they were using a WHO module that can be modified as per the local needs and culture. They said PFA cannot be given on roadside, and there should be a proper place to engage with the victim.
Rene Boekli working with ICRC said that it was highly relevant to reunite all helpers in the region and give them some basic training in PFA.
“We will share our experience with our team and see how our team is coping in this situation and how they can apply it in the field,” he said.
Nighat Shafi, chairman of Help Foundation, said the workshop was meant to provide basic information on psychological issues faced by the society during turmoil.
“This workshop will train people how to deal with the injured,” he said. “We will start family counselling and in every 15 days, we will conduct such workshops starting this month.”
An interaction session involving the audience and the speakers was also held during the event.