The HEMOT® project (Helmet for EMOTions) focuses on emotional preparedness in case of disasters (e.g., earthquakes, pandemics). It has been developed by a multi-disciplinary team with a strong psychological orientation.
Disasters. Disasters refer to catastrophic events including natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires, or epidemics/pandemics; technological disasters such as structural collapses or industrial accidents; and also terrorism. All disasters have a potentially highly traumatic impact on psychological functioning. This is notably true for children and adolescents, whose vulnerability depends on their level of cognitive and emotional development.
Emotional preparedness. Many studies focused on psychological interventions following disasters, but little is known about interventions before and during disasters. Nevertheless, pre-disaster interventions are crucial for emotional preparedness. Emotional preparedness aims at building people’s emotional resilience to combat the psychological trauma associated with future disasters.
Research with children, adolescents, and adults. We conduct psychological research on people’s understanding of disasters and disaster-related emotions. We consider the psychological development along the whole life course, with a specific focus on children and adolescents. The quality of our research is guaranteed by our strong psychological and methodological competences.
Training (patent pending) with children, adolescents, and adults. The HEMOT® project is testing the efficacy of interventions aimed at developing people’s understanding of disasters and disaster-related emotions. As follow, there is a brief description of the main current HEMOT® projects.
1) PrEmT project. The PrEmT project (Prevenzione Emotiva e Terremoti nella scuola primaria – Emotional Prevention and Earthquakes in primary school) is the first pilot project of HEMOT®, devoted to children and earthquakes. The objectives of the PrEmT project are twofold.
– The first objective of the PrEmT project is to verify the efficacy of enhancing primary school children’s understanding of and ability to regulate emotions associated with earthquakes. Participants are more than 600 children assigned to an experimental or a control condition. Pre and post-test measures assess children’s knowledge of earthquakes and abilities to understand and regulate emotions, in general and related to earthquakes. The intervention includes ten training sessions – conducted by experts in psychology and geology – on knowledge about seismic risk, and practice in understanding and regulating emotions in general and related to earthquakes. The training has been designed and implemented using techniques based on a deep understanding of contemporary ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and cooperative learning.
– The second objective is to prepare and disseminate guidelines for preparing children to withstand the potential emotional trauma of major seismic events, developed in collaboration by experts in psychology, geology, education, and media. While the initial focus is on the local region, the guidelines can be easily generalised to different countries and used to inform health, safety, and education professionals as well as general members of the community.
2) Coronavirus and emotions. Among HEMOT® initiatives, we are working to study and promote emotional understanding and regulation related to the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19. The project has three main aims:
– The first aim is to promote a public communication campaign. We developed a pamphlet about emotion regulation tips, aimed at helping adults to cope with children and adolescents’ emotions during the ongoing Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIT), in collaboration with local authorities such as the Civil Protection of the Veneto Region (Italy). Until April 2020, the campaign had reached a large audience at a national and international level through at least 216 media channels, comprising newspapers (e.g., The New York Times), one television program, school/university websites, websites or social network pages managed by a variety of professionals such as psychotherapists, psychologists, doctors, pediatricians, etc., and one scientific paper.
– The second aim is to validate training to foster resilience. We have developed an online training devoted to organizations aimed at helping employees to better understand the emotions felt during the emergency and to improve their knowledge about risk perception and emotion regulation strategies.
– The third aim is to gather scientific data on how people are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are running scientific research aimed at studying people’s emotions and coping strategies, also considering the role of personal and contextual characteristics.