Hamro Health

What is Psychological First Aid (PFA)? Why is it crucial for teachers to get PFA training?

Student Health

What is Psychological First Aid?

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a methodical approach supported by evidence that provides a step-by-step framework for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the immediate aftermath of crises and conflicting situations. PFA aims to extend initial aid by reducing immediate distress and promoting short- and long-term functioning and coping through early identification and referral. While the initial application of psychological first aid was primarily limited to disaster scenarios and their aftermath, its importance has now been acknowledged and implemented in various distressing situations. This approach is accessible to both professionals and non-professionals who find themselves in a position to offer psychological support during such events. Having a psychosocial or mental health background is not a prerequisite for delivering PFA. According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, PFA has eight core actions which includes:

  • Contact and Management: To respond to contacts initiated by survivors, or to initiate contacts in a non-intrusive, compassionate, and helpful manner.
  • Safety and Comfort: To enhance immediate and ongoing safety, and provide physical and emotional comfort.
  • Stabilization (if needed): To calm and orient emotionally overwhelmed or disoriented survivors.
  • Information Gathering on Current Needs and Concerns: To identify immediate needs and concerns, gather additional information, and tailor Psychological First Aid interventions.
  • Practical Assistance: To offer practical help to survivors in addressing immediate needs and concerns.
  • Connection with Social Supports: To help establish brief or ongoing contacts with primary support persons and other sources of support, including family members, friends, and community helping resources.
  • Information on Coping: To provide information about stress reactions and coping to reduce distress and promote adaptive functioning.
  • Linkage with Collaborative Services: To link survivors with available services needed at the time or in the future.

When discussing about addressing the mental health during the early stages of life, it’s important to note that adolescents and young adults are in a transitional phase of social and emotional development. This phase makes them vulnerable to experiences such as trauma, abuse, violence, and neglect. Given these circumstances, they often lack the necessary control and skills to effectively manage these situations. Consequently, they require support from someone who can step in and guide them through these challenges. This underscores the significance of Psychological First Aid (PFA) administered by teachers as an essential and initial measure to tackle these problems and enhance their overall quality of life as they approach adulthood.


Why is it cruicial for teachers to get PFA training?

Teachers hold a significant position that allows them to influence various segments of society, including students, parents, and community members. They bear the responsibility of imparting knowledge, skills, and critical thinking to the next generation. 

The education teachers provide serves as a pathway for social mobility, enabling individuals from diverse backgrounds to access opportunities, break the cycle of poverty, and make positive contributions to society.

Teachers are often the first point of contact for students, making them readily available to provide immediate support when a student is in distress. Their regular interactions with students allow them to quickly identify changes in behavior or signs of distress. When teachers openly discuss and address psychological well-being, they help reduce the stigma around mental health issues. This can encourage students to seek help when needed and promote a culture of openness and understanding.

Moreover, the provision of PFA by teachers equips students with the tools to cultivate resilience and coping strategies, which prove invaluable not only during their school years but also as they navigate challenges in their future lives. In essence, teachers’ influential role, accessibility, and capacity to provide support make them a crucial target for implementing PFA and promoting the overall well-being of students within the educational setting and beyond.

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