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The next time disaster strikes, mental health and other response workers may find help in delivering psychological first aid (PFA) as near as their smartphones. "PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning," says the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, a codeveloper of the app along with the Department of Defense's National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Responders should learn PFA before a disaster occurs, say the developers. "This app is a supplement to other resources [that] trained individuals utilize before, during, and after a disaster response." Armed with that knowledge, users can then read summaries of PFA actions; match interventions to specific stress reactions of survivors; evaluate survivors' needs and track them to simplify data collection and referrals; and use self-assessments to judge their own readiness to conduct PFA. The PFA mobile app is available for Apple iPhone users; an Android version will appear in 2013.
About the Author
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the world’s largest psychiatric organization. It is a medical specialty society representing more than 36,000 psychiatric physicians from the United States and around the world.
Originally Published: September 12, 2012