Psychosocial support (PSS) has been one of the five pillars of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
As the Ebola operation gradually moves from response to recovery, there are growing experiences in terms of understanding the psychosocial needs of beneficiaries, staff, and volunteers, and in implementing psychosocial support inter-ventions for beneficiaries in the context of Ebola.
In December 2015, the IFRC Ebola virus disease (EVD) operation hosted a two-day lessons learned workshop on psychosocial support in Ebola to document and share the lessons learned from the PSS component of the Ebola operation across the affected countries. The workshop was conducted in Dakar, Senegal with representation from the National Societies of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, IFRC’s regional EVD operation’s office, and the IFRC Nairobi Africa regional office.
The workshop was facilitated by the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support and focused on lessons learned pertaining to two key aspects of PSS in Ebola:
- Care and support for staff and volunteers
- Psychosocial support interventions for beneficiaries
The key recommendation arising from the workshop is that psychosocial support should have had a higher priority from the onset and throughout the EVD response, and that concerted advocacy efforts are needed at different levels to ensure that PSS is a strong pillar in future responses.
Furthermore, the recovery phase is seen as an important opportunity to strengthen PSS capacity in the National Societies, and to create strong networks at the regional level to increase knowledge sharing and capacity building.
Additional recommendations for future outbreaks of Ebola and other epidemics are enclosed in the report. The ambition is that these recommendations will be institutionalized in order to improve PSS preparedness for future Ebola outbreaks as well as other epidemics.
Read the full report here: Report: Psychosocial Support in Ebola – Lessons learned