The aim of the Pan-American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) Stronger Together 2020 campaign is to help people building their capacity for mental health and provide psychosocial support during disaster management. PAHO said this is especially important as the region is not only undergoing the stress of covid19 but also the hurricane season.
PAHO partnered with division chief, social sector division of the Caribbean Development Bank Deidre Clarendon, who said the 2020 campaign is an updated version of the 2019 campaign, which was launched in the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The pandemic has severely impacted activity in key economic sectors, pushed up the original unemployment rates, weakened government's finances, stretched our healthcare and social protection systems, and disrupted education.
“Even as we grapple with covid19, we are in the middle of our 2020 hurricane season which is predicted to be above normal. The impacts for these hurricanes are likely to include heightened stress, fear, depression and anxiety across populations that are already coping with covid19 impacts.”
She said PAHO had adapted or developed a number of resources such as a psychosocial first aid guide, social media cards and a jingle for use in the effort.
PAHO/WHO Office of Sub-regional Program Coordination for the Caribbean NCD and mental health adviser Elisa Prieto Lara said the theme of the campaign is connecting to feel safe, calm and hopeful.
“We have been faced with prolonged periods of lockdown, not able to connect with our friends, families, co-workers. Children have said that they feel unsafe, with routines changed, schools closed and dealing with home schooling.”
“Many people are feeling uncertainty as large numbers are affected by loss of livelihoods and feeling fear and anxiety due to the economic consequences of covid19. This unprecedented situation has taken a toll on our mental health, triggering reactions of depression, anxiety and worry. Urgent action is needed, as we have the seeds of what could become a mental health crisis.”
The campaign takes the form of a radio jingle, audio PSAs and testimonials, a social media package, a psychological first aid illustrated booklet, an audio version of the booklet, social media materials and human interest stories.
Prieto Lara said the campaign aims to offer information and tools to promote mental well being, coping strategies and to raise awareness to reduce the stigma about seeking mental health and psychosocial support.
“The aim is for communities, including vulnerable groups, such as children, adolescents, men and women, people with pre-existing health, mental health and substance abuse conditions, older adults and the caregivers, people with disabilities, migrants, ethnic minorities, to all feel safe, calm and hopeful.”
PAHO is encouraging everyone to access and share the materials available through the campaign, which can be found at https://www.paho.org/en/stronger-together-2020.