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Stress First Aid

Stress First Aid (SFA) is a set of supportive actions designed to promote self-care and care for others, especially — but not exclusively — to those in high-risk, high stress occupations such as health care.

The Stress First Aid model has been adapted for use by the National Center for PTSD and was developed by Patricia Watson of the National Center for PTSD and Richard Westphal of the University of Virginia. The overall goal of SFA is to identify and reduce the negative impacts of stress before that can harm a person's health and well-being.

At Sharp HealthCare, SFA has been an adopted practice that all employees are encouraged to understand in order to:

  • Help protect ourselves and each other from long-term, harmful effects of stress

  • Reduce the stigma often associated with mental health

  • Create a common language for all of us to address stress

  • Recognize the relationship between our own well-being and the well-being of our patients and community

  • Help all of us understand how to support each other and care for ourselves

About the SFA model

The SFA model includes seven elements (known as the seven Cs), each one of them serving a different purpose in lessening the impact and duration of stress:

Stress First Aid model:
Check: assess, observe and listen
Coordinate: get help, refer as needed to resources/support
Cover: if necessary, get to safety ASAP
Calm: relax, slow down and refocus
Connect: get support from others
Competence: restore readiness and effectiveness in a person's work or activities
Confidence: restore self-esteem and hope

It's important to note that not all stressful events will require all seven actions. In fact, this is rarely the case. However, it's helpful to understand each section to know when and how to use each action.

Getting started

The first and most important step is Check (The first "C"). Recognizing how you are feeling and understanding the signs of mental stress in others is essential to SFA.

The Mental Health Continuum chart is an easy and effective way to "Check" how stress is affecting you. The SFA Model is designed to help people move into the healthy part of the continuum. Ask yourself which "zone" best reflects your recent state of mind.

Use the chart and the GRAPES tool to help support your mental health.

Read on to learn what each of the Stress First Aid "Cs" mean for you and those around you: