First Form of Mental Care
We can now zoom in closer to the first form of mental care, namely acute psychosocial care. There are five ways of increasing the resilience of a diver.
1. Creating safety
Promoting a sense of safety is necessary in order to limit the stress of that particular moment. Here, we distinguish between physical and psychological safety. Under physical needs, we mean survival needs and basic medical needs (First-Aid, …), need for protection. In the case of psychological safety, it is important that the volunteer care-provider emphasises to the person affected that he/she is safe.
This can be done by giving information about the event and about the caregiver’s own role as a volunteer. In this phase it is important that the person concerned gains confidence in him/her.
Stress and anxiety are normal instinctive responses that prepare the body for responding and surviving. They can become a problem if they continue after a shocking event, once the person affected is in safety. Lack of rest prevents people from using their resilience. They cannot assess the situation, absorb or process new information, and it is difficult to set priorities. Calming the affected person down is an extremely important task. It is important that the volunteer himself remains calm and radiates calmness. We bring the affected person into a quiet environment. We give him a chance to express their feelings about the event.
It is better if affected persons can do things for themselves! A different consequence of a shocking event is loss of control. The affected person feels helpless. You can increase resilience by returning control to the person again. You can do this by stimulating self-reliance. Self-reliance is about everything that people can do for themselves, in their own familiar way. In spite of the shocking event, the affected person remains capable of doing things using his own knowledge and skills (informing the family him/herself, informing bystanders/the diving club).This means he is not a defenceless victim, but plays an active role after the shocking event. As a support provider, you would better positioning yourself in the background, and offering support where necessary, instead of taking things into your own hands.
It is essential to be able to rely on a network in order to cope with a shocking event. The bystanders are important people for those affected. The sooner an affected person sees a familiar face, the better. Connecting with as many people who have possibly been affected may make an important contribution during the phase of providing follow-up care. During the period after the diving accident/incident, it is important to pay sufficient attention to individuals who do not have a social network. They run the risk of developing problems in processing the situation.
5. Creating a perspective for the future
This aspect does not form part of the acute care, but is for a later stage. Here, it is important to support the affected person so that he can take up his sport again, renew his pleasure in his hobby. How can these people regain sufficient confidence to practice their sport?