Healing minds and coping with crisis: Thai Red Cross rolls out psychosocial support training for Migrants

Publié: 6 décembre 2016 8:59 CET

Pornsak Khortwong, IFRC


Looking back over the past decade, Thailand has faced numerous crises and disasters. In 2011, 65 of Thailand's 77 provinces were declared flood disaster zones  with 815 reported deaths, over 20,000 square kilometers of farmland damaged and 13.6 million people affected. In June 2014, a 6.3-Richter-scale earthquake, considered to be one of the biggest ever recorded in Thailand, struck the north of the country unsettling many.  At the same time, violent unrest in the southernmost provinces of the country has over several decades has killed and injured thousands.


Disasters, crises and a myriad of other social pressures are a source psychological stress for those affected and there are knock-on effects for wider communities. According to the World Health Organization in Thailand, the number of people treated in 2011 in mental health outpatient facilities was 117.74 per 100,000 people, while admissions to mental health hospitals was 131.31 per 100,000 people. The suicide rate for males was recorded as 12 in 100, 000 and for females 3.8 in 100, 000.


To build the knowledge and skills of practitioners and extend its services in providing psychosocial support, Thai Red Cross, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), hosted a training this month for health personnel, Red Cross volunteers and civil society organizations working with migrants in Thailand. 


Through discussion, role plays and group exercises, participants explored techniques for coping with stress, loss and grief; principles of supportive communication; the specific needs of children, and how to support volunteers and staff on the frontline. Participants also shared their personal experience of working with people and communities affected by various crises.


“I have never learned about psychosocial support techniques and theory. It was a great opportunity to learn about the pyramid of psychosocial support services and the 3L’s-‘Look, Listen, and Link’ to help people in need”, said Mr. Pracha Sungsiri, from the Thai Red Cross Relief and Community Health Bureau.


“Many migrants experience discrimination, exclusion and anxiety. In addition, long working hours, difficult jobs and limited social networks have a negative impact on their mental wellbeing. I am grateful for this Red Cross training opportunity and look forward to sharing the skills and knowledge acquired with my colleagues and the migrants we support in the North of Thailand”, said Nang san May Khine from Chiang-Mai-based MAP Foundation.


“We will translate the training materials into Thai Yai and Shan languages and use them in our weekly radio broadcasts for migrant populations”.


Using the results of a recent research study, Thai Red Cross’ Relief and Community Health Bureau aims to further develop the curriculum and handbook for psychosocial support training – adapting it further to the Thai context and making it easier to understand and apply in practice.  The aim is to expand the nation-wide network of people skilled in offering psychosocial support, thereby preparing and strengthening communities. The Red Cross also intends to create a web-based learning module to be made available on Thai Red Cross’ website in the near future.


For more information on IFRC’s work and tools on psychosocial support, please visit our global PSS Reference Centre: http://pscentre.org/.


For more information on this story: Ms. Kanungnij Chantaratin, Relief Division, Relief and Community Health Bureau, Thai Red Cross Society chantaratin@gmail.com or Dr. Pornsak Khortwong, IFRC Bangkok Country Cluster Support Team pornsak.khortwong@ifrc.org