Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network, 2019.

A report by the new Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network on humanitarian assistance and psycho-social support provides a range of key actions for cities and communities.

Key Points:

  • 5.1 Clearly Defined Protocols for Early Psycho-social Interventions
    • Terrorist attacks can be shocking, traumatic, disorienting and disruptive for those affected.
    • Early psycho-social interventions are essential to help promote recovery and identify people who need acute and consequential psychological help.
    • It is also critical to ensure that interventions are appropriately specific, and evidence based and are provided as soon as they are required.
  • 5.2 Dedicated Support Infrastructures
    • Cities should consider establishing designated permanent infrastructures and associated organisational roles and responsibilities for preparing, delivering and reviewing psycho-social support, humanitarian assistance and recovery strategies after major emergencies, including but not limited to terrorist attacks.
  • 5.3 Standby Care Teams and Innovative Training
    • Psycho-social interventions, preparation and response can be supported by psycho-social care groups.
    • Cities should plan, train and test the provision and co-ordination of practical, emotional and psycho-social aftercare for all those affected by terrorist incidents both initially and in the weeks, months and years that follow.
  • 5.4 Collaborating with the Third and Private Sectors
    • Third-sector organisations and private-sector organisations can provide useful support following an incident.
  • 5.5 Enhancing Community-Based Resilience, Peer Support and Managing Spontaneous Volunteers
    • Clear co-ordination strategies to manage spontaneous community support is key.
    • Consider the types of tasks volunteers could and should undertake.
    • Be aware of the potential need for surge capacity.
    • Consider the community’s characteristics and needs carefully.
    • Manage the expectations of volunteers.
  • 5.6 Identifying and Supporting Vulnerable Populations
    • Cities should work with local communities to enhance community-based resilience, social networks and voluntary services. Efforts should also ensure that vulnerable individuals and groups who may need particular humanitarian and other psycho-social support are identified (pre-and post-incident).
  • 5.7 A Holistic Approach to Humanitarian Assistance and Psycho-social Care
    • Cities should consider promoting and facilitating the development of peer-based support group programmes modelled on the principles of connectedness, and psycho-social resilience.
  • 5.8 Specialist Mental Health Screening, Assessment and Treatment
    • Regular and proactive mental health outreach, screening, assessment and treatment are all key for effective psycho-social care in response to major incidents like terrorist attacks.
    • Those responsible for co-ordinating contingency plans should consider the routine use of validated, brief screening instruments for PTSD from one month after the incident.
    • Screening should not omit people with sub-clinical PTSD symptoms, defined as symptoms of PTSD present that are elevated and cause impairment but do not meet the full diagnostic criteria.
  • 5.9 Humanitarian Assistance Frameworks and Transitioning from Response to Recovery
    • Cities should consider establishing humanitarian assistance centres (physical and online) as a focal point for ongoing, longer-term information, support and signposting.
    • Cities should review the capability, capacity and preparedness of their mental health services to provide proactive outreach and effective psychological screening and treatment for those affected by the complex loss and trauma associated with terrorist incidents and other major incidents. Special attention should be paid to co-ordinating pathways.
    • Cities should consider how they will best generate and share from independent evaluations of their humanitarian and psycho-social responses to terrorist incidents. Identifying research networks and academics specialising in disaster management, psycho-social care, humanitarian assistance and recovery will assist with this.
  • Concluding ACTION points
    • Cities should aim to facilitate a transition to a ‘new normal’ by providing: access to basic needs, information and appropriate support that benefits psychological health and social well-being, and signposting to seek further help if needed in both the mid- and long-term recovery process.
    • This process can be supported by:
      • Ensuring that there are clearly defined protocols for early psycho-social interventions.
      • Dedicated infrastructure in the form of a social emergency unit and as a regular part of care pathway following incidents.
      • Adequately co-ordinated procedures for managing support provided by the private sector, the community and spontaneous volunteers.
      • Utilising standby teams and ensuring that there are innovative and regularly refreshed training initiatives.
      • Working with appropriate sectors to identify vulnerable populations before and during an incident.
      • Ensuring frameworks and protocols are pre-planned, multi-agency, co-ordinated and sustainable.
      • Supporting specialist mental health screening, assessment and treatment initiatives.