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Nov 1, 2018

Red Cross Officials Receive Training in Psychosocial Support

The Belize Red Cross is known for its relief efforts in the wake of disasters and tragedies. But what many do not know is that the worldwide non-profit organization offers support to persons who are suffering from psychological trauma in the aftermath of tragedies. This week, personnel from the Red Cross have been training on how to best treat persons who need psychosocial support. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

In the aftermath of any disaster or tragedy Red Cross Belize is one of the first non-profit organizations which responds to the needs of the affected. Red Cross Belize is known for its humanitarian efforts, offering relief in the form of shelter, food distribution and health care. But what many do not know is that Red Cross Belize also offers psychosocial support.

 

Lily Bowman

Lily Bowman, Director General, Belize Red Cross

“It’s taking care of your mental health, of your mental state. Psychosocial support helps to not compound an already existing trauma or affectation of people who have experienced trauma.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“So this is mainly for Red Cross reps?”

 

Lily Bowman

“Yes. It is to increase our capacity to respond in terms of disasters mainly but also in emergency and in any crisis that occurs. We want to work with our families. You know the state in Belize right now with the crime situation there are so many families that are losing their loved ones and that are really in pain. While we attend to physical needs, we need also to attend to their mental needs.”

 

As Executive Director Lily Bowman explained, psychosocial support is intended to assist persons and communities to heal psychological wounds left lingering after an emergency or critical and tragic event. For the past three days, volunteers of the Belize Red Cross have been engaged in learning techniques on how to offer psychosocial support to individuals suffering from psychological trauma. The one week training session is being facilitated by Dr. Dennis Edwards a clinical psychologist and the President of the Jamaica Red Cross.

 

Dennis Edwards

Dr. Dennis Edwards, President, Jamaica Red Cross

“In essence words are important but it is not the only “therapeutic” approach. In terms of first words, you might just well want to be saying to the person that you are there for the person. We are able and will assist you in any way possible. You will probably understand the person’s inner pain but you can at least be present to have the person knowing that others care and that might try to see how it is that you can assist.”

 

Offering psychosocial support may sound like an easy task but it’s far from it. While it is not on the same caliber as professional counselors and shrinks, those offering treatment have to adhere to certain guidelines and best practices. Kristen Marin, one of the participants, shares what she has learned so far.

 

Kristen Marin

Kristen Marin, Participant

“One of the first rules in this training is that we never try to tell the person ‘I understand what you are going through’ because even if I lose my father and you lose your father I don’t know your relationship with your father so I still can’t comprehend what you are going through. So its more talking actions to help you in your recovery.”

 

The training ends on Friday and is funded by the International Committee for the Red Cross. Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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