ADRA Collaborates to Train Psycho-Social/Mental Wellness Providers

27 May 2018 | NCC Staff


Adapted from the St. Maarten Herald

ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) has continued to invest in the St. Maarten community and recently co-hosted a psycho-social training, focused on building community resilience. Some key stakeholders in the joint training included the Government of St. Maarten, the International Behavioral Health Trauma Team from Loma Linda University in California and the Trinidad and Tobago Behavioural Health Trauma Team.

The Coordinator of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church on St. Maarten, Pastor Vashni Cuvalay, indicated that ADRA sponsored a sensitization session in November, 2017, after the passing of Hurricanes Irma, José and Maria. And, for this psycho-social training ADRA provided tickets, accommodation, meals and conference materials for the participants while the government partnered by providing the venue.

This training involved using a psychologically designed model, the Community Resiliency Model (CRM), which teaches individuals to better handle life’s stressors and traumatic events by using self-care techniques that stop trauma from “hijacking” the nervous system. It is hoped that individuals will become better at coping with stressful situations and incorporate the skills acquired into their everyday activities, resulting in stronger and more resilient people and communities.

For three days, 35 health and mental wellness professionals from several governmental and non-governmental organizations were exposed to the neuroscience of resilience and the skill-set necessary to achieve positive coping strategies. The training also taught participants that the inevitable benefits gained through using resilience techniques to overcome psycho-social trauma, caused by natural disasters, include increased faith and a stronger advocacy for being good citizens.

This training has contributed to the government’s plan for delivering psycho-social and mental wellness care services in a standardized and internationally accepted way on St. Maarten. As a result, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour reached out to ADRA to schedule additional capacity-building for local professionals who work in the area of psycho-social care. The Ministry will identify a wider pool of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses and other care providers and will offer them the opportunity to develop the correct skills of self-care, thus enabling them to better handle the needs of the population they serve. In November, 2018, a Trainer-of-Trainers course will be provided by this Ministry in collaboration with ADRA, Loma Linda University and the Trinidad and Tobago Behavioural Health Trauma Team. This course will be designed to assist professionals who work in the area of trauma, disaster management and community resilience.

It is a long-term international partnership for ongoing capacity-training of professionals to develop evidenced-based assessment procedures and evidenced-based interventions that are endorsed by the Government of St. Maarten, ADRA and academia. It is anticipated that the resulting positive outcomes will include better post-Irma coping mechanisms, better psycho-social care services, more local psycho-social service providers, professional capacity building, international north-to-south and regional partnerships and an elevated local mental health care system that is accessible to the population.

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