The European Commission is supporting a number of different projects that aim to optimise early psychosocial intervention (in large-scale emergencies and terrorist attacks). Projects in chronological order (Schedlich et al., 2008 and Bering et al., 2011):
- The European Policy Paper (EPP - Psycho-Social Support in Situations of Mass Emergency) was drafted within the framework of the project in 2001, was funded by the EU and supported by the Belgian Ministry of Health in collaboration with a number of experts. The project team suggested implementing a co-ordinated office, which would work to ensure that early psychosocial intervention was implemented and structured. A screening for those affected was recommended to help assess the need for treatment.
- The British Red Cross organised the "Working together to Support Individuals in an Emergency or Disaster" project between 2002 and 2004. The project analysed the various emergency management strategies and legislations effective within the different countries of the European Union. The finding is considered an important foundation for a legally structured integration of early psychosocial intervention into existing support systems that EU member states may have in place already. (www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/132991/working.pdf)
- The project "Citizens and Resilience" by Stichting Impact from Netherlands (2005-2007) focused on early psychosocial intervention for victims of terrorist attacks with a special emphasis on children and on supporting resilience and collective efficacy of communities. The findings have played influenced the publication of the "Multidisciplinary Guideline for Early Psychosocial Interventions after disasters, terrorism and other shocking events". This was created under the patronage of the nationwide committee for multidisciplinary guidelines for mental health care in the Netherlands. Similar to the European Policy Paper, the project team pleads for a structured integration of early psychosocial intervention into existing healthcare structures. (www.impact-kenniscentrum.nl)
- The aim of the project PLOT "prevention of long-term psychological effects on victims of terrorist attacks and their families" (2005-2007) was to adapt the TIGIP (?) to the situation typology of terrorist attacks, to train any organisation involved as well as creating suitable training material. PLOT was carried out by the Institut für Klinische Psychologie und Psychologische Diagnostik [Institute for Clinical Psychology and Diagnostic] at the University of Cologne and the Zentrum für Psychotraumatologie [Centre for Psychotraumatology] at Alexianer Krefeld GmbH, coordinated by the City of Cologne. (www.plot-info.eu)
- The Belgian Red Cross lead the project "Sharing European Resources for the Victims of Terrorism - EURESTE" (2005-2006 and 2007-2009). The Handbook of Meeting Needs in a Crisis outlining specific recommendations for early psychosocial intervention in case of terrorist attacks was designed within the framework of the pilot project. The continuation project focused on recommendations for legal experts, media representatives, aid workers and information on working with children. (www.eureste.org)
- The project "Developing Standards for Victims of Terrorism" (2006-2008) initialised an international advisory group lead by the Netherlands (Intervict University of Tilburg, Catholic University Leuven, Victim Support Netherlands and the Forum for Restorative Justice). The main objective of the project was to develop specific standards for assisting victims of terrorist attacks with legal matters and compensation claims, while also providing early psychosocial intervention. (www.tilburguniversity.nl/intervict/conference/2008)
- The project "Reinforce Rescuers' Resilience by Empowering a well-being Dimension - RED" (2007-2009 aimed to study the psychological burden on uniformed services and resilience factors in large-scale emergencies via an especially designed questionnaire and to develop a training programme for uniformed services and psychosocial care providers. Project partners were Sinergie Srl, the Italian and French Red Cross, the psychosocial faculties of the University of Turin and Pavia, the Regione Autonoma della Valle d' Aosta, Fondo Formación Euskadi and the Stichting Impact. (www.cri.piemonte.it/progetti/red)
- The project "SURVIVORS - Joint Response to Loss and Survival in Terrorism" (2007-2009)" supported a European network of victim support organisations and the creation of a "European Network for Affected by Terrorism - ENAT". Coordinated by the City of Cologne and the City of Bologna/Italy, "Asociación 11M - Affectados Terrorismo", Madrid/Spain as well as the Westminster Council, Social Services, London/England. Victims of terrorist attacks are working together with experts to develop guidelines and structural aspects of a European network and set-up an online forum. (www.survivors-project.eu)
- "TENTS - European Network for Traumatic Stress" (2007-2009), supported by the majority of the EU memeber states, focussed on developing a European network of experts and specifying standards for the prevention and treatment of psychotraumatic after-effects. The continuation project TENTS-TP is currently (since 2009) working on designing and running training courses to prevent and treat PTSD. (www.tentsproject.eu)
- The project "Improve the Preparedness to give Psychological Help in Events of Crisis - IPPHEC" (2007-2009) was lead by the Italian Ministry of Health. The hospital an Camillo - Forlanini/Rom and a large number of experts from across the Europe conducted the scientific coordination of the project. The early psychosocial intervention provisions of European hospitals for victims and their relatives after a large-scale emergency were assessed. Basic standards and recommendations for implementing early psychosocial intervention into hospital procedures were drafted and training manuals created after the questionnaire had become status quo in most member states. (www.ipphec.eu)
- "Informed. Prepared. Together - IPT" (2008-2009) lead by the European Red Cross aimed at summarising the results of any previous European projects and providing recommendation and available products via web portal. (www.informedprepared.eu)
- An European pool of experts "EU Exchange of Experts in Civil Protection" was established in 2002, aiming to connect all organisations working within this field and to optimised any existing standards. The EU expert exchange EUCIVEX was run between 2002 and 2006 by the Higher Institute of Emergency Planning in Belgium. The Technische Hilfswerk (THW) has since taking over the responsibility to coordinate the programme. (www.exchangeofexperts.eu)
- The task force "European Guideline for Target Group oriented Psychosocial Aftercare - EUTOPA" (2006-2008) aimed to indentify any gaps and inadequacies and to develop existing concepts that could be implemented by all European countries. The knowledge of European experts and scientists was summarised and conceptually integrated within the framework of workshops. EUTOPA focuses on supporting victims of large-scale emergencies as well training any organisations involved. This includes recommendations for procedures to optimise and standardise crisis intervention and preventative measures. Psychotraumatological knowledge and experience should be an integrated part of standards procedures for medical and psychosocial care and logistic measures in response to large-scale emergencies. EUTOPA was extended to implement and further develop those findings (EUTOPA-IP, 2009-2011). (www.eutopa-info.eu)
- Recommendations for a structural organisation of early psychosocial intervention for victims and uniformed services (Beerlage et al., 2006, 2008, 2009; Helmerichs, 2008) have been developed in Germany over the past few years. Experiences made in Germany, after the tragic train accident in Eschede 1998, after the killing spree in Erfurt 2002, supporting victims, relatives and bereaved after the Tsunami catastrophe 2004 or the evaluation of acute psychosocial care after the killing spree in Winnenden/Wendlingen 2009 have provided a significant contribution to early psychosocial intervention. Preparations for the World Cup 2006 supported the structural integration of early psychosocial intervention into any existing emergency procedures on both regional and national level (Helmerichs, 2005). An ongoing project for the developement of quality standards and guidelines for early psychosocial intervention, known under the name of Konsensuskonferez [consensus conference] initiated by the Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (BBK) [Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK)]. The aim was to reach a binding agreement and to publish guidelines and nationwide, legally binding provisions to ensure the quality standard of early psychosocial intervention is adhered to and based on scientific recommendations and practical experiences. Participants representing governmental departments, national and local authorities, organisations for police, non-police and military emergency response teams, professional and trade associations, chambers, sponsors, churches and scientists (BBK, 2009; BBK, 2011; www.bbk.bund.de).