Govt. and ADRA hold psycho-social session

Minister of Health Emil Lee and participants who completed the psycho-social training session held recently.

 PHILIPSBURG–The Government of St. Maarten in collaboration with The International Behavioural Health Trauma Team of Loma Linda University in California and the Trinidad and Tobago Behavioural Health Trauma Team ADRA recently conducted a psycho-social training on building community resilience.

This training involves using a psychologically designed model, the Community Resiliency Model (CRM) which teaches individuals to better handle life’s stressors and traumatic events by using self-care techniques that stop trauma from “hijacking” the nervous system.

In turn, individuals become better at coping with stressful situations and incorporate the learnt skills in their everyday activities, resulting in stronger and more resilient people and communities.

The training included 35 participants spanning several governmental and non-governmental organisations: The Department of Social Development, Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs; Social Services; Mental Health Foundation (MHF); Student Support Services Department; Ms. Lalie Centre; K1 Britannia; and ADRA.

Participants, via the three-day training, learned the neuroscience of resilience and the skills set necessary to achieve positive coping strategies that, via self-care, curb annoyance, anxiety, anger, sadness and desperation associated with natural disasters.

The training also taught its participants that there are inevitable benefits gained through using resilience techniques to overcome psycho-social trauma cause by natural disasters. These benefits are increased resilience, increased internal strength, clearer priorities, gratitude for life/hope, appreciation of loved ones, forgiveness, compassion for one’s self and others, wisdom, increased faith and a stronger advocate for being good citizens.

This training was the result of a sensitisation session on psycho-social care that took place in November 2017 after the passing of Hurricanes Irma, José and Maria.

This training is also a part of the overall mental health care plan for bolstering psycho-social and mental health care services on the island. It was presented to professionals in the field of mental health and psycho-social care by ADRA in cooperation with Dr. Beverly Buckles of Loma Linda University and a trauma team headed by Alexander Isaacs of the Trinidad and Tobago Behavioural Health Trauma Team, and was seen as crucial to the Government of St. Maarten.

As a result, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour reached out to ADRA to secure the possibility for further capacity-building of local professionals who work in the area of psycho-social care to guarantee administering psycho-social care in a standardised and internationally accepted way in St. Maarten.

This training was a key step in the development of that identified structure, as it entailed identifying a wider pool of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and even nurses, giving those professionals the opportunity to develop the correct skills of self-care enabling them to better handle the psycho-social needs of the people, which is essential to providing better mental health wellness in general and will benefit the entire population.

As a follow-up to this training, a Trainer-of-Trainers course will be initiated by the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour in collaboration with ADRA, Loma Linda University in California and the Trinidad and Tobago Behavioural Health Trauma Team in November this year. This course will give interested psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses the chance to serve as trainers to an even larger group of professionals who work in the area of trauma, disaster management and community resilience.

This capacity building endeavour and the overarching policy for psycho-social care will better prepare the Government, local professionals and the people of this country to overcome the trauma associated with the effects of natural disasters in the future. This entire initiative is a benefit to the people of Sint Maarten, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or any other status.

It is a long-term international partnership for ongoing capacity training of professionals to develop evidenced-based assessment procedures and evidenced-based interventions that is endorsed by the Government of St. Maarten, ADRA and academia, with positive outcomes that include better post-Irma coping mechanisms, better psycho-social care services, more local psycho-social service providers, professional capacity building, international north-to-south and regional partnerships and an elevated local mental health care system that is accessible to the population.

Source: The Daily Herald