In 2018 and 2019, CEBaP developed an evidence-based guideline for first aid in case of mental health problems, adapted to the Flemish context. Since then, the guideline has been implemented and disseminated at the national and international level.
Within the Belgian Red Cross, the guideline was used to create a training manual ("Listen", in Dutch: "Luister"), which was released in 2019. At the beginning of 2020, the corresponding training course "First aid for mental health problems" was piloted.
Last month, in a third phase, the Belgian Red Cross has released a free mobile app ("Support", in Dutch: "Houvast"), that presents some of our evidence-based recommendations in a short, clear and accessible form. The app mainly offers action-oriented tips and concrete knowledge that you can use immediately to help someone else or yourself, which is especially useful during this COVID-19 pandemic that puts serious strain on the mental well-being of many people. The Belgian Red Cross therefore wants to raise awareness and offer helpful tools. In line with this, CEBaP has also performed a rapid systematic review on factors affecting mental health of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the international level, parts of the guideline are being used in the development of the 2020 International First aid, Resuscitation and Education Guidelines, which will be published in February 2021.
In addition, CEBaP has recently published a peer-reviewed research article that provides an overview of the best available evidence on one of the topics addressed by the guideline. It concerns communicative first aid interventions that can be performed by laypeople for the prevention and relief of post-traumatic stress disorder-related symptoms in the aftermath of traumatic events. Communication with family members in a safe and comfortable environment and the expression of feelings may be associated with improved mental health status.