Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR): A Disaster Response Approach

Disaster-related Psychosocial Supports

Psychosocial supports are an integral aspect of overall disaster effort. Every element of a response to disaster has the potential to impact the psychosocial wellbeing of individuals, families and whole communities. A comprehensive disaster response requires the integration of two complementary disaster response paradigms, Disaster Mental Health and Psychosocial Capacity Building and Resilience. Effective disaster-related psychosocial supports require equal emphasis on individual-focused approaches and community interventions.

The 2013 flood in southern Alberta demonstrated the importance of providing psychosocial supports to citizens affected by disaster, and of the readiness to provide these services at any time.  Following the flood, Alberta’s Ministry of Health supported the implementation of the Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) to help flood survivors to cope with the mental and emotional impacts of their flood experiences. SPR is one of a number of evidence-informed, individual focused approaches for disaster-related psychosocial supports. SPR, which was used in Hurricane Katrina and the Australian bush fires, offers simplified, brief application of skills that are commonly related to improved recovery in post-disaster situations.

Reports and Handouts

In spring 2014, the Ministry of Health funded a developmental evaluation of the SPR training program to optimize the implementation of SPR in Alberta.

In support of this work, a literature review and environmental scan were conducted. The questions addressed through this review were:

  1. What is known about the overarching picture of Disaster-related psychosocial support (DR-PSS) within which SPR fits?
  2. What is known about the implementation, effectiveness and efficacy of SPR?

The purpose of the evaluation was to:

  1. Document how SPR has been implemented in Southern Alberta (including any adaptations that were made for this context)
  2. Identify the infrastructure, capacities and resources required for SPR to be effectively implemented and sustained across the province
  3. Assess whether SPR should be scaled up and implemented as part of a broader approach to psychosocial support in Alberta