Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)

The impact of humanitarian crisis on individuals cannot be fully addressed by food, pills, blankets and even protection, as emergencies have a profound impact on people's mental and psychological health. Those affected by crisis have often lived through tragic events, lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones and endured long periods of fear and uncertainty. Many will also have a mental illness, just as can be found anywhere in the world. Late to be recognized and incorporated into humanitarian programming, mental health and psychological support are essential to strengthening the capacity of individuals to cope with crisis and restore their ability to function.

Crying young man behind a UN peacekeeper following an incident

Photo: UNHCR/B. Heger

Latest content

Specialized resources

Practical tool that aims to support general health facilities in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies in assessing and managing acute stress, grief, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, epilepsy, intellectual disability, harmful substance use, and risk of suicide

Key actors

Platform for sharing resources and knowledge between practitioners and organizations in the area of MHPSS

Assisting in the response to international mental health crises through its role as grassroots advocacy and public education organization in the mental health field

Provides support in emergency settings, as part of its overall work on mental health and psychosocial support

Supports and advocates for the implementation of the IASC Guidelines on MHPSS

Supports the mental health of people hit by war, violence, disasters, and other humanitarian emergencies

Key references

Standards specifying the minimum levels in humanitarian response for MHPSS, as well as key actions, indicators, and guidance notes for meeting them

Framework focusing on coordination, useful and potentially harmful practices, and how different approaches to MHPSS complement one another

Overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian health actors should have about MHPSS in humanitarian emergencies

Overview of MHPSS needs and the ICRC’s response through its MHPSS programs

Tools for the job

Toolkit for humanitarian practitioners designing and conducting assessments of mental health and psychosocial needs and available resources in major humanitarian crises

Crosscutting themes

Protection activities

This guide provides a brief overview of MHPSS for protection program managers in humanitarian emergencies.

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