(PRESS RELEASE) – Research based Evidence has shown that the provision of psychosocial support to disaster-affected populations has been recognised as a key strategy in mitigating the adverse mental health effects of natural and man-made disasters.
As a result the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment has commenced the psychosocial support strategy process in the OECS region by undertaking a four day training workshop in Saint Lucia.
The workshop was held at the Bay Gardens Hotel from Tuesday March 10th to Friday March 13th, 2020.
Head of the Social Development Unit of the OECS Commission Dr.Grace -Ann Cornwall emphasises the importance of this initiative.
“The Partnership OF UNICEF and OECS commission through this intervention signals that we are in solidarity with our regional stake holders geared towards building a cadre of human resources who can adequately respond to the needs of children and families in humanitarian situations. The workshop is designed to produce facilitators who are competent and confident in facilitating psychosocial support sessions for adults and children. This will be done by engaging in the delivery participation of simulation exercises, coaching on the collection of sensitive data, making referrals and detecting early abuses of trauma in children and discussion exercises.”
The focus of the workshop was to sensitize Social workers, Shelter Managers, Family Case workers, Social Transformation Officers, Local Government Officers and Essential Service personnel on Psychosocial Support Strategies, Trauma Intervention Methods and Grief Counselling Strategies in response to disaster.
Dr. Griffin Benjamin is the workshop facilitator
“We have recognized that for physical conditions we seem to know what to do. Physical first aid is under control. However we have found that many persons do not know what is to be done in times of trauma. So then the objective is to sensitize community members and teach them what to say, what to do and how we say it.”
Acting Deputy Director in the Welfare Unit of the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment Shahini Gravillis stated that Welfare Officers will now be better equipped to deal with psychosocial support when a disaster arises in Saint Lucia.
The training is intended to produce facilitators who are confident and competent in facilitating psychosocial support sessions for both adults and children.
Despite the availability of disaster response guidelines and a growing evidence base for interventions, each disaster event produces unique impacts and challenges that require the tailoring of psychosocial responses to the existing community, service system.