Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Settings
Survivors of conflict and disaster are at higher risk for psychological distress and mental health conditions due to continued and overwhelming chaos and uncertainty, as well as the enormity of their loss, which often includes homes, community, loved ones and livelihoods. We have the capacity to comprehensively respond in these cases, and are one of the few international relief organisations that prioritises the prevention and treatment of mental health and psychosocial needs in humanitarian crises. As communities recover and development begins, we focus on the longer term, to help strengthen mental health care and shape national policies.
We have achieved significant breakthroughs in the fight for comprehensive mental health care by:
- advocating for mental health care with donors, governments and policymakers, taking a lead in assessing needs and mapping services, coordinating activities of different actors and promoting best practices and guidelines;
- launching large-scale initiatives to bring MHPSS care to displaced populations living in emergency conditions;
- training medical and non-medical professionals to strengthen national health systems, particularly when addressing refugee crises;
- implementing an approach centered on careful case management that identifies, supports and protects those who are vulnerable, and promotes stability and recovery;
- working with traditional community-based support groups and key people who can offer basic psychosocial support within the community; and
- linking existing community support groups with local doctors and nurses trained by International Medical Corps, to strengthen and expand the continuum of care from the community level to other local, regional and national health facilities.
Areas of Focus
International Medical Corps plays a leading role in the advancement of mental health systems in humanitarian settings. We contribute to the development of global guidelines and national policies for improving mental health and well-being among affected populations.
International Medical Corps is one of the few global emergency response organisations with the capacity to address both the immediate psychosocial needs of communities struck by disaster and the needs of those with preexisting mental disorders at the community level.
We use a comprehensive approach to adapt training materials to the local context, providing both foundational training and supervision, supporting institutional changes and capacity building while evaluating results to inform policy, practice and scale-up.
Projects for children and youth are designed to build key life skills, enabling them to better deal with difficult situations and develop friendships while encouraging youth to engage in communities.