Mental health care in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement
Why should we focus on mental health and psychosocial support in National Societies?
During armed conflict, natural disasters and health emergencies, the need for mental health and psychosocial support increases dramatically. Existing support systems are often strained.
What are the steps we should take in our National Societies if we want to work more with mental health?
- Service mapping in your community
- Cross-sectoral collaboration
- Training and supervision of community providers
- Integration into existing programmes and activities
Care in communities
IFRC are developing guidelines on how to design, implement and evaluate Care in Communities programmes. These programmes involve community and home-based care and support for physical and psychological well-being. The guidelines include a chapter on psychosocial support and community based mental health care.
Integrating mental health care into primary and community health care
Integrating mental health care in schools and primary & community health care has many benefits, including access to persons needing care, sites for providing care; it is often less stigmatising to access help at existing health care centres, social care service points and in schools; it is a good way to address shortages of staff and specialised services; it is cost-effective, and provides a good opportunity for advocacy, awareness and education on mental health.
What does this mean for psychosocial support activities and approaches? (Should National Societies now focus on MH and less on PSS?
No, there is as much need for psychosocial support activities as ever. In the RCRC movement we need to strive to achieve a continuum of care across the different layers of interventions. Adding focus on community mental health care in your work complements existing psychosocial support work, aiming to help those with more severe distress than usually targeted with psychosocial support. Psychosocial support activities that promote social connectedness are also part of community mental health care in promoting healthy living, supporting people living with mental health conditions, and promoting recovery and rehabilitation. The Red Cross Red Crescent work with MHPSS is guided by the Movement’s mental health and psychosocial support framework.
What can we do collectively to help improve mental health care in our own communities?
- Raise awareness
- Integrate attention to mental health
- Advocate for more attention to and funding for mental health care.
What can you do in your NS to include or improve focus on mental health care in your work?
Include or improve focus on mental health and psychosocial well-being in all integrated responses and programs (including budget allocations).
Build understanding and skills in mental health to prevent the development, and to respond to, severe distress or mental health conditions. Key activities are to train National Society staff and volunteers in Psychological First Aid.