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Psychological First Aid for COVID, and more

How to help someone in a mental health crisis
Posted at 7:30 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 21:33:18-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — COVID-19 is pushing a lot of people to the breaking point--and beyond. And often the people closest to the person in trouble have to recognize the need and do what they can to help until professionals can intervene.

It’s an idea called psychological first aid. Volunteers skilled in emergency response are offering free online lessons so anyone can learn this life-saving skill.

COVID-19 has the potential to bring stress and heartbreak into every home. The deadly threat to physical health can wear down your mental health as you watch the virus strike family and friends.

For several years a group called ICSAVE, formed of first responders and medical volunteers has offered free training in topics like emergency first aid and defense against mass shootings. COVID concerns have forced the group to move instruction to on-line videos---including one on psychological first aid.

Bruce Whitney of ICSAVE says step one is recognizing when someone needs help.

“People start to become withdrawn, detached, very emotional. They can have emotional outbursts. They can be the exact opposite of what they might be going through something that any one of us would basically be impacted by, and they appear to be very withdrawn.”

He says the goal is to keep everyone safe until professionals can intervene.

“Let them know, look what I'm here, I'm here for you, I'm here to help, you know, I'm not going anywhere. If there's anything you can need? Can I get connected there with other family members or their friends or other people that I can get you in touch with that can be here with you?”

He continues: “So you're going to ask open-ended questions you're going to be very empathetic, you're not going to say state things that are judgmental. You're going to be there as a sounding board, listen to what they have to say to be able to comfort them and let them know that they're not alone.”

The ICSAVE website can help direct you to expert help, and offer instruction on everything from emergency physical first aid to surviving when you’re lost in the wilderness.

There’s no charge for any of it---and in the isolated world of the pandemic, there’s extra value in understanding how to help yourself and the people close to you.