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Imagine if all volunteers had psychosocial training

  • June 3, 2019
Petobo, Indonesia, December 2018.

Imagine if all volunteers had psychosocial training

In a televison inteview 24 May in the Dutch late night talkshow Pauw, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, stated that she wants more focus on psychosocial emergency aid in crisis areas.

People affected by a disaster or conflict must receive psychosocial support as quickly as possible.

Therefore Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, wants to set up an international pool of experts in this field who, at the request of the United Nations, the Red Cross and other aid organizations, can travel directly to a crisis area to identify which and how much help is needed.

To do so the Netherlands will work closely with the World Health Organization and other international organizations. 

“In crisis situations, psychosocial assistance is just as important as food, water, shelter and safety. It is not a bonus, but must become a standard part of emergency humanitarian aid,” says Minister, Sigrid Kaag.

To achieve this, the Minister is organizing an international summit in Amsterdam in October on mental health and psychosocial support in crisis situations. Experts in this field (including IFRC PS Centre, ed.) will meet people responsible for policy, plans and financing of mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies.

Many victims of disasters and conflicts experience psychological problems such as depression or anxiety disorders as a result of traumatic experiences (or they had them already before the crisis started and the crisis aggravated their mental health problems, ed.).

Psychosocial and mental health problems can last long and hinder daily functioning. In conflict areas, on average, psychological distress persists longer than elsewhere because there is often no support available and daily life remains stressful.

“Psychosocial support and trauma help make other emergency relief actions more effective. This also helps those affected to resume their lives and to begin reconstruction in their environment,” says the minister.

Sigrid Kaag also wants more care providers to be trained to be able to offer basic psychosocial care and to be able to refer people with serious psychological problems to more specialized mental health care providers. She is discussing this with relief organizations.

“Just imagine that all the volunteers of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies worldwide are trained as a standard in psychosocial care, you will have millions of people around the world who have an eye for this and can help those in need.”