Mental health treated as a priority following the attack

Dealing with the psychological welfare of the population of Barcelona following the attack on La Rambla was the main theme for an extraordinary meeting by the monitoring commission for the city’s mental health plan. During the meeting, information was shared with entities on the response of emergency teams from the first moment and together the initial outline of work for the next few months was decided on, with action designed to help citizens affected.

The strategy for attending to the mental health of the population following the attack includes various perspectives (health, psychological and social) and prioritises support for people directly affected. Over 30 psychology professionals provided support by phone or in person, coordinated by the Social Emergency and Urgent Care Centre (CUESB). 730 affected people were attended to, as well as people from 170 shops and businesses on La Rambla, with 80 professionals intervening directly.

As from 17 October, support for people affected will be offered via the primary healthcare network. This allows for long-term follow-up, making it a regular service instead of an emergency one. Before that, teams will be trained in primary support in order to deal with those affected.

Support in schools

Another group which must be prioritised are students (children and young people) at schools and colleges, particularly those located near La Rambla. The Education Consortium has been working to produce the first teaching material in order for students to talk about what happened, as well as support material for teaching staff. Barcelona’s Muslim community may be doubly affected and so action is planned via psychoeducational groups.

Action will also be address at the general public, to be able to handle any possible fears over a new attack, with a communication plan with clear messages to be designed over the next few months.

All the initiatives planned will form part of the existing mental health plan. “The fact that the city has a mental health plan meant is has been able to respond better during the emergency”, asserted the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, Laia Ortiz. She also highlighted the importance of being in touch with cities which have been through similar situations. “The knowledge acquired by cities such as Paris and Madrid help pave the way for us. We know we have to be very pro-active and pay close attention to all responses by municipal services over the next six to twelve months”, noted Ortiz.