Psychological First Aid

“Psychological first aid is a human, caring and compassionate response that addresses practical needs and concerns above all else” Australian Red Cross Psychological First Aid Field Guide

What Is Buddy Care Mental Fitness and Psychological First Aid?

“Psychological first aid is not prescriptive. However, there are basic elements to providing psychological first aid that have been drawn from the literature on risk and resilience, research, field experience and expert agreement,”

Australian Red Cross Psychological First Aid Field Guide

Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness is the teaching and enhancement of natural human common-sense principles of support to promote normal recovery from traumatic events, such as helping people to feel safe,connected to others, calmand hopeful, with access to physical, emotional and social support; and importantly, also able to help themselves and co-responders. It consists of two parts:

Resilience Building Life Skills – These life skills are carefully chosen to support the individual’s ability and confidence to utilise and implement the PFA component. However they have a stand-alone value that contributes to character building and community conscious behaviour.

Psychological First Aid – Psychological first aid is based on the principle of “first do no harm”. Endorsed and supported by the World Health Organisation, practiced by the International Red Cross in countries where it operates and continuously researched and taught by the United StatesNCTSN

Very important -what PFA is NOT! 
It is NOT something only professionals can do 
It is NOT professional counselling 
It is NOT “psychological debriefing”. No detailed discussion of the distressing event 
It is NOT asking people to analyse what happened or put time and events in order 

Who Can Provide Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness?

Because it is not psychotherapy, an extended “treatment,” or a stand-alone mental health intervention, any trained staff member, student or parent, regardless of whether he/she has had mental health training,can use the skills of Buddy Care Mental Fitness to deliver immediate assistance. He or she can be confident that psychological first aid is designed by the best and most experienced relief responders and researchers in the field, and is continuously being re-evaluated at the highest global level. 

"The principles of psychological first aid, however, also mean that it can be offered by a wide variety of people in the community – from emergency personnel to neighbours and volunteers – in addition to trained responders….” Australian Red Cross


Who needs Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness in their organisation?

Who benefits from Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness?

“I never thought that could be me. I thought I was bullet proof against these things. How wrong I was.” An honest survivor.

An important aim of Buddy Care Mental Fitness is to build care givers and survivor’s capacity alike, to recover by helping them to identify their immediate needs, and their own strengths and abilities to meet these needs. Research shows that one’s positive belief in our ability to cope can predict outcomes, so those who are optimistic, positive and feel confident that life and self typically, do better after experiencing mass trauma.

“While the sudden disruptive nature of emergencies means that we are all exposed to uncertainty and stress, people will experience different degrees of distress. Whenever possible, any person in distress should have access to psychological first aid. This includes adults, adolescents and children, as well as disaster relief workers and first responders.” Australian Red Cross

The key words are “access to”: It is important to remember that not everyone who experiences an emergency will have emotional distress or problems during or after the crisis. Not everyone who experiences a crisis will need psychological first aid. Yet some do.

“PFA is for distressed people who have been recently exposed to a serious crisis event. You can provide help to both children and adults. However, not everyone who experiences a crisis event will need or want PFA. Do not force help on people who do not want it, but make yourself easily available to those who may want support.”

World Health Organisation: Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers

When is PFA provided?

“Although people may need access to help and support for a long time after an event, PFA is aimed at helping people who have been very recently affected by a crisis event. You can provide PFA when you first have contact with very distressed people. This is usually during or immediately after an event. However, it may sometimes be days or weeks after, depending on how long the event lasted and how severe it was.” WHO: PFA field guide

Where is PFA provided?

“You can offer PFA wherever it is safe enough for you to do so.This is often in community settings, such as at the scene of an accident, or places where distressed people are served, such as health centres, shelters or camps, schools and distribution sites for food or other types of help. Ideally, try to provide PFA where you can have some privacy to talk with the person when appropriate. For people who have been exposed to certain types of crisis events, such as sexual violence, privacy is essential for confidentiality and to respect the person’s dignity.”WHO: PFA field guide

Why train Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness in schools?


In the after math of a disaster the psychological “footprint” greatly exceeds the size of the medical foot print – possibly by ten times.


Unaddressed stress and mental health needs, including those from exposure to violence and other potentially traumatic events, increase dropout rates, lower academic achievement, disrupt peer relationships, and impact overall well-being. Thus, programmes such as Buddy Care are not only important for the well-being of children and school personnel, but are also critical for the central educational mission of schools.


School resources are recognisably limited.


Establishing Buddy Care Mental fitness in the school, with an annual volunteer programme making it a way of life, and train-the-next-trainer facilities in place, both the direct costs of health care and the indirect costs associated with this kind of disruption can be significantly avoided. 


Brief interventions can produce positive results that last.


A growing body of research shows that there are brief, effective interventions that have a long-lasting positive influence on students’ and staff members’ trauma-related distress. Buddy Care draws from the best available PFA evidence, identifying factors that promote improved student and staff functioning after disasters and other emergencies.


Preparing for emergencies is critical for all school staff and students.


While your school should be prepared to respond to high impact/low frequency events such as public health emergencies and infectious diseases, large-scale natural disasters and community violence, they must also be prepared to address smaller scale events that schools face each day. Emergency events that often disrupt the learning environment, include transportation accidents, peer victimization, staff or student deaths, school stabbings and shootings, injuries on the playground or sports ground, suicides, criminal gang infiltration.    


Schools are typically the first service agencies to resume operations after a disaster/emergency and can become a primary source of community support during and after the incident.


Schools are where children spend a majority of their day and where they receive substantial support from teachers and other staff members, and some schools are the primary setting for psychosocial support and child mental health services. In many ways, teachers and staff are the “first and last responders” for children in an emergency.


Students look to their teachers and to school administrators for leadership and guidance, while parents expect and demand that school personnel respond competently and appropriately in such situations. In a school-wide emergency, children’s “everyday” school personnel can provide much of the intervention needed to stabilize the situation.


Schools: Who is suited to provide Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness?


Buddy Care PFA Mental Fitness, in the context of schools, is intended for students, school personnel, and their familieswho wish to be part of an organised team prepared to deal with a disaster or other emergency involving their school, or neighbouring schools. Whether an emergency occurs on school grounds or in the community at large,schools can serve as a central location for professionals to assist the larger community when a large scale disaster strikes too.


“(This means that) responses can be undertaken in a coordinated manner,and that psychosocial support can be provided as a key part of the emergency response. …() this could include: health and allied health professionals, teachers and other education professionals, members of the clergy and other faith-based organisations….” Australian Red Cross


The field of school safety and emergency management has evolved significantly over the past decade.Tragically, acts of violence, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks have taught us many lessons. We also know that other types of emergencies can impact the community, including medical emergencies, transportation accidents, sports injuries, peer victimization, public health emergencies, and the sudden death of a member of the school community.” The US NCTSN. 

Emergency Responders: Your mental fitness saves lives. Are you always ready?
First responders have a duty to themselves, their colleagues and to the public at large to be mentally fit. You can build personal and team resilience that will reduce on-call fatigue and post event stress.

Buddy Care mental fitness “first aid” helps you save lives by enhancing your own natural powers of recovery from unexpected disasters and traumatic events - just like the immediate appropriate attention you would give to a wound or burn.

Buddy Care is safety, calmness and connectedness. Self-care & care for others.Learn practical skills that are human, compassionate and caring. Skills that will get you back to being in charge of your life quickly.