Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Emergencies: What Should Humanitarian Health Actors Know?

This document is for humanitarian health actors working at national and sub-national level in countries facing emergencies and crises. It applies to Health Cluster partners, including governmental and non-governmental health service providers.

Based on the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC, 2007), this document gives an overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian health actors should have about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies. Managers will need to ensure that health staff are oriented on relevant parts of this document, as applicable.

The term ‘psychosocial’ denotes the inter-connection between psychological and social processes and the fact that each continually interacts with and influences the other. In this document, the composite term mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is used to describe any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well-being and/or prevent or treat mental disorder.

Including considerations of mental health and psychosocial well-being in the general health response will protect the dignity of survivors and enhance the general health response.

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Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), World Health Organization (WHO)


Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)