The mental first aid guidelines include four main rules: Focus, Encouragement, Question and Construction.
Focus: You need to focus on the person in front of you
In times of distress, a feeling of loneliness arises.
Therefore, you are encouraged to make a commitment to the distressed individual by telling them "You are not alone, I am here with you."
Encouragement: Encouragement for effective action
Ask and encourage the distressed individual to perform effective and simple actions. Indeed, a feeling helplessness is a factor known for increasing levels of distress after traumatic incidents.
It is advisable to encourage those who look distressed to perform simple actions such as contacting relatives, collecting phone numbers of the people around you, preparing and eating food, or even attempt to care for another distressed individual.
Question: Ask simple questions that will allow the distressed individual to think and make analytical decisions.
Discussing emotional distress in such a situation should be avoided as emotional flooding can be known to increase distress.
Instead, it is preferable to ask them simple questions about the event, such as:
- How long have you been here?
- Where do you need to go?
- Did you arrive here alone?
Construction: Help the distressed individual recreate the traumatic sequence of the events.
People in distress often suffer from confusion and can sometimes have difficulty speaking. They sometimes do not remember what happened that caused them to go into a mental state of distress.
It is advised to try describing for them the sequence of events that took place to reorient their thoughts and then reduce their overall levels of confusion.
It is important to stress that the threatening or traumtaic event is over and that the person is no longer in danger.