In many ways, 2017 was a special year seen through the lenses of mental health and psychosocial support in the IFRC. International attention has never been so strongly focused on psychosocial support at field level, in research and at policy level.
In severe crises, such as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the Rakhine crisis and the protracted crisis in Libya, mental health and psychosocial support is repeatedly mentioned as being key elements in the overall response.
Several reports were published about migrant children and youth during the year. The Save the Children report “Invisible Wounds: The impact of six years of war on the mental health of Syria’s Children” made a lasting impression with its unbearable description of the plight of these children: traumatized, unhappy and with a very uncertain future to look forward to. For the PS Centre, it became possible to focus on and be involved in several research and development projects with the aim of scaling up mental health interventions to vulnerable groups and populations through the task-shifting agenda with the so-called scalable psychological interventions.
The highlight of recognition was at the Council of Delegates in Turkey. IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy and ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord stood side by side and declared the importance of mental health and psychosocial support for affected populations, volunteers and staff. A resolution proposed jointly by the ICRC, the IFRC, the PS Centre, Danish Red Cross and Swedish Red Cross was adopted to create greater global attention on the mental health and psychosocial needs of populations affected by armed conflict, natural disaster and other emergencies and to emphasize the importance of tackling the stigma surrounding this urgent issue. Additionally, a formulation of a Movement Policy on Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Needs building on common approaches and contributing to the harmonization of different Movement responses will be developed before 2019 for the 33rd International Conference. This adoption of the resolution underpins the words of Yves Daccord that psychosocial support is not only a necessity. It is in fact, a lifesaving intervention.
Read the PS Centre annual report for 2017 here: https://pscentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2017-PS-Centre-Annual-Report-lo-res.pdf