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Manuscript Submission Deadline 31 December 2023

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Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-based approach employed to reduce psychological distress and stress symptoms experienced by individuals in the aftermath of an extreme and/or traumatic event (i.e., natural disaster, public health disaster, personal crisis, or any life-altering experience). The approach is based on human resilience and aims to support an individual to achieve a healthy recovery and help shift them from a sense of helplessness through the use of active and effective coping strategies within minutes, in the immediate aftermath of a perceived traumatic event.

PFA can be used as a preventative approach to build and maintain resilience, as an intervention approach to mitigate the effects of trauma on the individual, and as a rehabilitation approach to promote a healthy recovery. PFA is designed to be both simple and practical and thus easily applicable in any setting where trauma survivors exist (i.e., in shelters, schools, hospitals, the workplace, etc.). The PFA approach encourages a tailored approach that both respects and fits the needs of the impacted culture. As reactions to traumatic events manifest differently at different periods during and after an incident, having a widely applicable approach such as PFA can be used and adapted to support individuals globally from a range of backgrounds and in a range of settings.

Often emotional distress cannot be seen or measured; however, its impact can be just as debilitating as sustaining a physical injury. Current and ongoing global crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the need for effective and immediate interventions that address and promote an individual’s ability to return to effective function in the short-term and in turn reduce the risk of long-term mental health risks. Whilst there is a growing body of research on PFA, there is still much to be learned about its implementation (i.e., effectiveness, success, barriers, etc.), particularly concerning psychological and neurological aspects.

Considering these points, this Research Topic aims to explore the effectiveness and success of implemented PFA protocols (including overcoming the barriers to implementation) in different contexts, populations, and settings around the world. This collection welcomes original research articles, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses related to PFA that include, but are not limited to:

• Effectiveness of PFA as an early intervention method to promote natural recovery in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event;
• Effectiveness of PFA in reducing acute stress and short-term mental health symptoms;
• Impact of PFA on long-term mental health conditions/outcomes (i.e., PTSD, role of PFA in promoting resilience, encouraging existing coping skills and post-traumatic growth);
• Implementation and dissemination of PFA interventions in different settings and contexts (i.e., by first responders during natural disaster/public health disasters, in schools, hospitals, the workplace, and community-based organizations);
• The cultural adaptation of PFA for use in different cultural contexts;
• Use of PFA in combination with other interventions, such as pharmacotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy;
• Education in PFA for the public and professionals;
• Outcome measures of PFA;
• Role of technology in delivering PFA interventions;
• New and innovative PFA models/protocols for different contexts, settings, and cultures;
• The impact of PFA on physiological markers of stress and trauma, such as cortisol levels and heart rate variability;
• The neurobiology underpinnings of PFA (i.e., the role of the vagus nerve and other neural pathways);
• PFA for groups and communities;
• PFA training for different types of groups (e.g. training for non-professionals, training for first responder teams, etc.).

Keywords: psychological first aid, PFA, PFA interventions, PFA window opportunity, education in PFA, PFA mental health risk reduction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-based approach employed to reduce psychological distress and stress symptoms experienced by individuals in the aftermath of an extreme and/or traumatic event (i.e., natural disaster, public health disaster, personal crisis, or any life-altering experience). The approach is based on human resilience and aims to support an individual to achieve a healthy recovery and help shift them from a sense of helplessness through the use of active and effective coping strategies within minutes, in the immediate aftermath of a perceived traumatic event.

PFA can be used as a preventative approach to build and maintain resilience, as an intervention approach to mitigate the effects of trauma on the individual, and as a rehabilitation approach to promote a healthy recovery. PFA is designed to be both simple and practical and thus easily applicable in any setting where trauma survivors exist (i.e., in shelters, schools, hospitals, the workplace, etc.). The PFA approach encourages a tailored approach that both respects and fits the needs of the impacted culture. As reactions to traumatic events manifest differently at different periods during and after an incident, having a widely applicable approach such as PFA can be used and adapted to support individuals globally from a range of backgrounds and in a range of settings.

Often emotional distress cannot be seen or measured; however, its impact can be just as debilitating as sustaining a physical injury. Current and ongoing global crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the need for effective and immediate interventions that address and promote an individual’s ability to return to effective function in the short-term and in turn reduce the risk of long-term mental health risks. Whilst there is a growing body of research on PFA, there is still much to be learned about its implementation (i.e., effectiveness, success, barriers, etc.), particularly concerning psychological and neurological aspects.

Considering these points, this Research Topic aims to explore the effectiveness and success of implemented PFA protocols (including overcoming the barriers to implementation) in different contexts, populations, and settings around the world. This collection welcomes original research articles, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses related to PFA that include, but are not limited to:

• Effectiveness of PFA as an early intervention method to promote natural recovery in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event;
• Effectiveness of PFA in reducing acute stress and short-term mental health symptoms;
• Impact of PFA on long-term mental health conditions/outcomes (i.e., PTSD, role of PFA in promoting resilience, encouraging existing coping skills and post-traumatic growth);
• Implementation and dissemination of PFA interventions in different settings and contexts (i.e., by first responders during natural disaster/public health disasters, in schools, hospitals, the workplace, and community-based organizations);
• The cultural adaptation of PFA for use in different cultural contexts;
• Use of PFA in combination with other interventions, such as pharmacotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy;
• Education in PFA for the public and professionals;
• Outcome measures of PFA;
• Role of technology in delivering PFA interventions;
• New and innovative PFA models/protocols for different contexts, settings, and cultures;
• The impact of PFA on physiological markers of stress and trauma, such as cortisol levels and heart rate variability;
• The neurobiology underpinnings of PFA (i.e., the role of the vagus nerve and other neural pathways);
• PFA for groups and communities;
• PFA training for different types of groups (e.g. training for non-professionals, training for first responder teams, etc.).

Keywords: psychological first aid, PFA, PFA interventions, PFA window opportunity, education in PFA, PFA mental health risk reduction


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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