Community health volunteers and other key staff at the forefront of the novel coronavirus response in Kenya are receiving training in psychological first aid to help them look after their own mental health and well-being, and that of others, during the pandemic.
The project, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, is being carried out through a partnership between Amref Health Africa and County governments in seven counties that have a high burden of COVID-19 cases: Kakamega Bungoma, Busia, Bomet, Homabay, Migori and Siaya.
Commenting on the launch of the program, Ms. Lennah Kanyangi, the Amref Health Africa Project Manager, said that the first aid course follows a globally recommended model for supporting people during emergencies and is tailored to meet the specific challenges of COVID-19.
“The program aims to enable frontline health workers to develop their skills and confidence in providing key psychological support to people affected by the pandemic amidst the outbreak and beyond.”
Four hundred community health volunteers are receiving training on how to provide practical and emotional support to people affected by emergencies or crisis situations.
Speaking during the training at Mumias Level 4 hospital in Kakamega County, Gilbert Makokha, Chair of Kakamega Mental Health and Psychological Support, said that those completing the training will have an understanding of what Psychological First Aid is and will be able to identify who would benefit from support and how best to give help to different groups or situations.
“On completion of the training, the personnel will be equipped to better identify those in distress and provide support to help them feel safe, connected, calm and able to take steps to help themselves during the pandemic or any other critical situations.”
Janet Maasai, Mumias West sub-county Community Health Service Coordinator, said that their staff has been working around the clock in the face of the challenge of COVID-19 and that’s why it is so important that staff are properly supported. She urged anyone with concerns about their mental health to come forward to either a colleague or the occupational health team or the helpline so that they can get help and the needed support.