UNICEF USA-funded project supports well-being of Indigenous Covid-19 frontline workers

Behavioral Health, Mental Health

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has received funding from UNICEF USA (UUSA) to support the development and dissemination of a culturally adapted Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide and online training course. 

With this project, the Center continues work to support mental health in Native communities, an important endeavor that has only become more urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a crisis such as this pandemic, the need for mental health support and care often outpaces the availability of services from licensed clinicians and health professionals. To help meet mental health needs, PFA is an intervention meant to train frontline workers (e.g., community health workers, health care workers, etc.) and equip them with basic skills to support their own well-being as well as the mental well-being of their co-workers and those they serve. PFA training programs have been used globally in the wake of disaster events and are a promising tool to meet urgent needs for mental health support. 

To develop a culturally relevant and appropriate PFA, the Center is adapting content from a PFA manual developed for frontline workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic globally by the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee. We are engaging a collaborative work group of Indigenous public health, mental health, and frontline workers to steer and inform the adaptation of an Indigenous PFA. An Indigenous- and women-owned design firm, Design de Plume, is designing the resulting PFA guide and training content. 

The PFA content from the guide will be used to create an online training. The online training will be piloted and evaluated with frontline workers from reservation and urban Native communities. The final evaluated and refined training will be made widely available to any frontline workers interested in completing the training. 

Main photo by: Nina Mayer Ritchie

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