Providing adequate psychosocial support is a crucial part of building community resilience. The psychological and social impacts of emergencies and crisis situations may be acute in the short term and can undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population and individuals. Psychosocial support as part of emergency response increases the ability of communities to absorb shock and bounce back from a disaster or critical event.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Red Cross updated in 2014 a Memorandum of Cooperation onpreparedness andfirst aidactivities. TheFinnish Red Crosshas agreedto trainvolunteergroups thatcomplement and support theauthorities in crisis situations, and also to train and maintainteams of expertssuch aspsychologists’ preparednessgroups to assist in emergency response.
The need for support usually persists after the acute phase. There are several psychosocial support service providers in Finland such as municipalities, religious communities, organizations as well as private operators. The coordination of these different actors is particularly important when accidents occur and in crisis situations. In practice, providing psychosocial support has proven to be challenging in situations where the victims and their families are from different parts of the country, as municipalities have organized the assistance and support differently. Clear coordination of psychosocial support in response and recovery phases is necessary to enable equal community support and treatment of victims and families. This is essential in order to avoid both social and health problems after crisis.
For the years 2016–2020, the Finnish government and the Finnish Red Cross pledge to:
- ensure that the need for and role of psychosocial support in severe accidents and crises is recognized in relevant policies and plans, such as the Security Strategy for Society;
- further develop coordination and cooperation mechanisms for psychosocial support in order to enable equal community support and treatment of victims and their families regardless of their place of residence in Finland or where the accident takes place;
- explore together best practices of coordination of psychosocial support for communities, families and individuals in accidents and crisis situations as well as in post crisis situations.
Proposed evaluation criteria:
- Extent to which the need for and role of psychosocial support in severe accidents and crises is recognized in relevant policies and plans, such as the Security Strategy for Society.
- Availability of a study or report on best practices of coordination of psychosocial support for communities, families and individuals in accidents and crisis situations as well as in post crisis situations.