Joint Movement policy on MHPSS

  • July 2, 2019

Joint Movement policy on MHPSS

Photo: IFRC

»Mental health matters. And doubly so for millions in the invisible and often hereditary pain of trauma after conflict, natural disaster and emergencies. Worldwide, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement sees psychosocial support as part of the continuum of local care.«

– Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, IFRC.

The field of humanitarian MHPSS is benefitting from more attention and recognition than ever before. However, there is still too few resources, not enough knowledge and too few trained staff and volunteers to reach the ambitious goals responding to the extensive unmet mental health and psychosocial needs arising as a result of armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies.

For the first time ever, all Movement components have come together to formulate a MHPSS policy and resolution that builds on the diversity and broad reach of the Movement to meet the MHPSS needs of affected populations across the continuum of care.

The resolution advocates for States, National Societies, the ICRC and the IFRC to increase efforts to ensure early and sustained access to quality mental health and psychosocial support services by people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies. It calls for investment in sustained local and community-based action that is comprehensive, complementary to other activities, and that is integrated into all humanitarian response and health activities. This also includes in domestic and international emergency response systems and preparedness plans. The resolution also calls on actors to address stigma, exclusion and discrimination related to mental health and psychosocial needs through approaches that reinforce dignity and participation in a context-specific and culturally sensitive way. A further important aspect that the resolution calls for is that measures are taken to strengthen the quality and capacity of the humanitarian staff and volunteers and to protect and promote their mental health and psychosocial well-being. The policy and the resolution are ground breaking in their call for mental health and psychosocial support to be included in all humanitarian activities – across the Movement and by governments.

The Movement-wide policy is a direct follow-up to the 2017 Council of Delegates resolution which granted a mandate to create a harmonised and unified MHPSS approach, scope and standards for the Movement.

If signed, the MHPSS Policy will re-orientate and guide the work of all Movement components for the coming decades, with the Resolution upholding the responsibilities of Member States to address the MHPSS needs of their populations.