Supporting the journey of recovery

Ella Rhodes reports on a new British Psychological Society report.

The BPS has published a report on supporting schools in the wake of a crisis or disaster – featuring psychologists who have worked to support children and young people following the Grenfell Tower fire and Manchester Arena bombing. Produced by the Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Section of the British Psychological Society in collaboration with the Educational Psychology Group at UCL, the report is aimed at educational and applied psychologists as well as those who work in mental-health-related roles in schools.

In his introduction to the report Dr Ben Hayes pointed out that, following a traumatic event, around 80 to 90 per cent of children and young people will recover, while around 20 per cent may experience ongoing reactions to an event which they need support with, this number may drop to 10 per cent one year following a traumatic event. ‘…Knowing how to promote coping within and across communities can make a huge impact on community cohesion and collective agency so that there is the maximum chance of ensuring that the 80 per cent recover with normal community support. Experiences may even lead to growth and learning in time.’

The report includes insights from psychologists including co-founder of the Children and War Foundation and author of Grief in Children Professor Atle Dyregrov (University of Bergen) whose work has been used with children in Iran, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Iraq and Syria. Senior Educational Psychologist Jane Roller and Helen Kerslake, Assistant Principal Educational Psychologist, also wrote of their approach working as part of the educational psychology service which supported schools affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Greater Manchester Resilience Hub was set up in response to the Manchester Arena terrorist bombing in 2017 – an attack which killed 22 people and injured more than 350. Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Kate Friedmann wrote about the work of the hub in the aftermath of the attack as well as the lessons she and her colleagues learned along the way – some of which have been put to use recently in supporting health and social care staff and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report also featured discussions of the use of psychological first aid, a trial of the Supporting Students Exposed to Trauma programme, posttraumatic growth, the experiences of staff in schools following a critical incident and and the development of resources for schools following partial closures in the face of Covid-19.

To read the full document, Psychological support for schools following a crisis or disaster: The journey of recovery, see: tinyurl.com/yz2duhka

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