Thu | Nov 30, 2023

Chang: Psychological first responders trained to break cycle of violence

Published:Monday | January 30, 2023 | 12:56 AM


NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Dr Horace Chang says front-line community members trained as psychological first-aiders (PFAs) under the Citizens Security Plan (CSP) will be critical to breaking the cycle of violence.

Psychological first aid, designed to reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, was developed to enhance immediate and ongoing safety and to provide comfort to families affected by violence.

The graduates are among individuals working for various agencies and organisations that are active in more than 20 communities across St James and Hanover.

“I am confident that these psychological first responders will contribute significantly to reducing the level of distress caused by traumatic events in our communities,” Chang said during a graduation ceremony involving 15 trainees at the S Hotel in Montego Bay late Friday.

The training of PFAs is a critical component of the CSP, which was approved by Cabinet in May 2020.

The plan aims to shift from traditional methods of implementing social interventions, especially in zones of special operations (ZOSO), through a multisectoral approach to improving safety and security.

The 12-hour training administered to the psychological first responders is funded by the European Union (EU) and was developed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and adapted to the Jamaican context by the EU’s technical assistance team.

The PFA graduates are expected to identify community folk who are in need, promote physical and mental recovery from trauma, and listen to and link them to long-term support services.

Dianne McIntosh, executive director of the CSP Secretariat, says the psychosocial training that the PFAs received will strengthen their skills as first responders and help affected individuals recover from physical and mental trauma.

“I want to thank you all for your commitment to this cause to closing these gaps. You are the lifeline of the communities,” said McIntosh.

“The work that you do in psychosocial aid is tangible and it saves lives,” she added, sharing that, for every dollar spent on preventative care for youth, $4 is saved in costs relating to juvenile services.

Accordingly, McIntosh says the training of additional PFAs will continue and extend into communities where there are ZOSOs.

Roll-out for further training is set for Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland..