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Remote Psychological First Aid during the COVID-19 outbreak

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created concern and worry among the general population worldwide. Many will be anxious and afraid and those directly affected in different ways by the virus may be in greater panic, fear and worry.

Psychological first aid (PFA) is a method of helping people in distress so they feel calm and supported to cope better with their challenges. It is a way of assisting someone to manage their situation and make informed decisions. The basis of psychological first aid is caring about the person in distress and showing empathy. It involves paying attention to reactions, active listening and, if needed, practical assistance, such as problem solving, help to access basic needs or referring to further options for assistance. PFA helps normalize worry and other emotions, PFA also promotes healthy coping and provides feelings of safety, calming, and hope.

Any crisis impacts the social networks of the affected, and social interaction is of vital importance for human beings. Therefore, it is important to support the affected to find ways to keep in touch with others, even though being in isolation or quarantine. During the time of the virus outbreak, keeping a physical distance to others is mandatory, however keeping socially connected and closely in dialogue with others is vital. This can happen through phone or internet calls, Apps and other social media.

These guidelines can be used by Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies to set up and run different kind of remote services for the public during the time of a COVID-19 response. It should be noted that the target group for the guidelines are adults.