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Mission & Strategy

The IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support (PS Centre) works under the framework of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), and supports all National Societies in promoting and enabling the psychosocial well-being of beneficiaries, staff and volunteers.

The overall objective of the IFRC Psychosocial Support Programme is to assist the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to:

Create awareness regarding psychosocial reactions at a time of disaster or long-term social disruption.

Set up and improve preparedness and response mechanisms at global, regional and local levels.

Promote the resilience and thereby the rehabilitation of individuals and communities.

Restore community networks and coping mechanisms

Enhance emotional assistance to staff and volunteers.

Facilitate psychosocial support before, during and after disasters

This mandate is implemented within the framework of the Strategical Operational Framework 2023 and the policy framework of the IFRC. Furthermore, as part of the IFRC, the PS Centre is guided by the seven fundamental principles and relevant policies and works towards the achievement of Strategy 2023 and the three strategic aims outlined within it. Accordingly, the PS Centre will work to:

Enable National Societies to understand, respond and utilize evidence based practice in meeting the psychosocial needs of vulnerable groups. Additionally, the provision of technical support, including assessment, training, support, monitoring and evaluation is key to integrating psychosocial care in (a) disaster preparedness and response (b) complex emergencies and refugee situations, (c) areas of community health, social welfare and youth.

Strategical Operational Framework

The 2023 Strategic Operational Framework (SOF) for the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support (IFRC PS Centre) presents the strategic operational priorities of the IFRC PS Centre in 2023. It builds on the Centre’s previous SOFs as well as on IFRC’s Global Plan 2023.

The work of the PS Centre in 2023 will continue to take place in the context of major and complex humanitarian crises and challenges. The Ukraine crisis and its implications, the food crisis in East Africa, poverty, climaterelated events and inadequate health care, the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, disasters, and armed conflicts as well as high inflation rates will have direct and indirect impacts on people’s health. The SOF 2023 therefore describes global challenges the PS Centre faces and sets out approaches to priority areas and actions to be taken to achieve the goals in 2023.

The strategic priorities for the PS Centre’s work in 2023 outlined in this publication should always be seen in a global context considering the many complex challenges that sometimes go hand in hand, especially as the public’s attention is often involuntarily focused on certain crisis developments and events.

The SOF 2023 describes the PS Centre’s global work, serving both as a compass and a guide regarding the Centre’s global work to assist the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to scale up and strengthen the quality of mental health and psychosocial support. In 2023 the PS Centre will strive to maintain and increase its targeted global influence on MHPSS policy work through a proactive and structured approach towards policy events and decision-making processes. At the same time, the 2023 SOF reflects the focus of the IFRC PS Centre, and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement more broadly, on the implementation of the Movement’s MHPSS Policy1 on Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Needs of People Affected by Armed Conflicts, Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies that was adopted at the 33rd International Conference in December 2019.

PS Centre Strategical Operational Framework 2023
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The PS Centre story: From trauma to resilience

The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies Psychological Support Programme emerged in the early 1990s at a time when an increasing number of National Societies realized that disasters can lead to not just physical but also mental issues in affected populations, and that the traditional way of offering relief in the form of shelter, food and medical care was often not enough.

As a result, the Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support (PS Centre) was established in 1993 as a “Centre of Excellence” to support National Societies in promoting and enabling the psychosocial well-being of beneficiaries, staff and volunteers. Hosted by Danish Red Cross and located in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Centre is a delegated function of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

  • 1991

    The IFRC launches the Psychological Support Programme as a cross-cutting programme under the Health & Care Division.

  • 1993

    The International Federation Reference Centre for Psychological Support is established.

  • 1998

    As a response to the Yugoslav
    Wars resulting in the breakup
    of Yugoslavia, the PS Centre
    gives support to programmes
    for children affected by armed

  • 1999

    A roster of MHPSS experts is
    formed and administrated by
    the PS Centre.

  • 2001

    The Gujarat earthquake in
    India, killing between 14,000
    and 20,000 people, causes
    mental health problems
    among the affected survivors.
    Through an MHPSS delegate,
    the PS Centre becomes

  • 2003

    As a response to the
    psychosocial needs after the
    Bam eartquake in Iran kills
    more than 34,000 people,
    Iranian Red Crescent - with
    support from the PS Centre
    - deploys 11 psychosocial
    support teams.

  • 2004

    The IFRC Psychological Support Policy Paper  establishes the basis of Red  Cross Red Crescent  intervention both in emergency response operations and in the implementation of long-term development programmes.

  • 2004

    The Centre changes its name to the Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, underlining the community-based character of the interventions.

  • 2004

    The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, killing more than 225,000 people in 14 countries further reveals the need for a formalized psychosocial support programme within the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

  • 2007

    The Interagency guidelines for MHPSS in Emergencies is published. The guidelines lay out a multi-sectoral, inter-agency framework for implementing MHPSS in an emergency context.

  • 2015

    The PS Centre becomes co-chair of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings.

  • 2017

    The UN Human Rights Council adopts a resolution recognising the importance of integrating mental health services into primary and general health care.

  • 2019

    The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement adopts a joint Movement policy and a resolution on addressing mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies.

  • 2020

    A roadmap for implementing the Movement policy and resolution on MHPSS sets out key activities for the Movement and outlines the outputs and outcomes expected by 2023. The PS Centre is instrumental in its implementation.

  • 2020

    The Covid-19 pandemic causes a global need for MHPSS response tools. The PS Centre produces more content in 12 months than in any proceding year, including new formats such as podcasts and training videos.

  • 2022

    The armed conflict in Ukraine initiates the largest MHPSS response programme in the history of the IFRC. The PS Centre has a central part in this response.