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Ways to support people dealing with hardship or major loss during the COVID-19 pandemic

You probably know people hit hard by job losses, school interruptions or other life changes due to the coronavirus crisis. Here are some tips to help you support them.

If there are people in your life deeply disrupted by COVID-19, there are ways you can reduce their initial distress and support them to cope naturally.

Promote safety

  • Encourage people to stay healthy
  • Follow physical distancing guidance - it is saving lives.
  • Offer comfort - if you are physically distanced, do this over a phone or video call.
  • If they need it, and you can, help them seek out financial and material assistance.

Promote calm 

  • Listen to people who wish to share their stories and emotions, without forcing them to talk. 
  • Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel. 
  • Be friendly and compassionate even if people are being difficult. 
  • Provide information on stress and coping.
  • When they express fear or worry, remind people that more help and services are available.

Promote connections 

Promote self-efficacy 

  • Encourage people to meet their own needs. 
  • Help with decision making, and to prioritise and solve problems, rather than doing things for them.
  • Focus on what people can control, and break things into bite size chunks. Lists and plans help.

Promote hope 

  • Let them know you believe they will work through this.
  • Be there and be willing to help – even if you cannot be there physically, you can stay connected.
  • Reassure people that their feelings are normal.
  • Highlight that people are resourceful in the face of adversity and there are many examples of this resourcefulness in the community.

Some people will need much more support than psychological first aid. Know your limits and ask for help from others who can provide medical or other assistance to avert a crisis.

More information on providing psychological first aid can be found here.
 

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