Training Community Health Workers in Psychological First Aid during the Pandemic

Psychological First Aid During the Pandemic

Community Health Workers at a training session on Psychological First Aid (Photo: Amref Health Africa).

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We’re highlighting some of the work that Amref does to support the mental health of communities, which is equally as important as physical health.

In Kenya, Amref is training Community Health Workers (CHWs) and other key staff at the forefront of the our COVID-19 response in Psychological First Aid to help them look after their own mental health and well-being, and that of others, during the pandemic.

The training is carried out through a partnership between Amref Health Africa and County governments in seven counties that have a high burden of COVID-19 cases: Kakamega Bungoma, Busia, Bomet, Homabay, Migori and Siaya. It is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

Lennah Kanyangi, Amref Health Africa Project Manager, said that the first aid course follows a globally recommended model for supporting people during emergencies and is tailored to meet the specific challenges of COVID-19.

“The program aims to enable frontline health workers to develop their skills and confidence in providing key psychological support to people affected by the pandemic amidst the outbreak and beyond.”

Looking After Themselves, and their Community

(Photo: Amref Health Africa)

Four hundred CHWs are being trained on how to provide practical and emotional support to people affected by emergencies or crisis situations.

Speaking during the training at Mumias Level 4 Hospital in Kakamega County, Gilbert Makokha, Chair of Kakamega Mental Health and Psychological Support, said that those completing the training will have an understanding of what Psychological First Aid is and will be able to identify who would benefit from support and how best to give help to different groups or situations.

On completion of the training, CHWs will be equipped to better identify those in distress and provide support to help them feel safe, connected, calm and able to take steps to help themselves during the pandemic or any other critical situations.”

Janet Maasai, Mumias West sub-county Community Health Service Coordinator, said that their staff has been working around the clock in the face of the challenge of COVID-19 and that’s why it is so important that staff are properly supported. She urged anyone with concerns about their mental health to come forward to either a colleague or the occupational health team or the helpline so that they can get help and the needed support.

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