IFRC Americas Regional Office announces the launch of a new tool for volunteers that implement activities of psychosocial support in communities affected by the Zika virus.

The guide “Guía de apoyo psicosocial en Zika para el voluntariado” (Volunteers’ guide for psychosocial support on Zika) and its toolkit “Caja de herramientas de apoyo psicosocial y Zika” (Toolkit for psychosocial support and Zika) provide element to analyse, plan and implement strategies and actions to protect and improve the mental health and psychosocial welfare of persons, families and communities affected by the Zika virus.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, many people suffered serious consequences from contracting the Zika virus. The virus’ impact goes far beyond affecting physical health: it has important psychological and social implications, such as causing feelings of fear, stress or culpability, and generating discrimination and exclusion for having to deal with the disease. Despite often going unnoticed, these implications have a huge impact on communities, especially on pregnant women and parents of babies with congenital Zika syndrome.

“Through specific actions of care and support to individuals, families and communities, psychosocial support develops resilience; it supports the healing process from the psychological damage caused by Zika and helps to rebuild social and emotional structures that weakened due to the disease”, explains Ana Carolina Picado, expert in Psychological support for Zika for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The guide was developed from experiences and lessons learned from Zika response actions implemented by IFRC since 2016, following the declaration of Public Health Emergency on Zika virus from the World Health Organization.