Mental health and psychosocial support is vital for our individual and collective well-being, especially now.
The tensions and challenges involved in the development over recent decades of the field of practice now known as mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) will continue to shape questions of implementation, prioritisation and impact.
Fostering the mental health and psychosocial well-being – within a comprehensive protective response – of people affected by humanitarian emergencies requires multi-sectoral action and coordination.
In complicated urban contexts, organisations must redesign established models of MHPSS intervention in order to ensure that services are accessible to the most vulnerable and are context-specific. It is not possible merely to move camp-designed interventions to the urban context.
Culture bias can reduce programme effectiveness and potentially cause serious harm to already vulnerable communities.
Teachers play a paramount role in providing MHPSS to their students and in sustaining resilient education systems – and supporting teachers’ own well-being is essential if they are to fulfil this role.
Faith and spirituality are part of many people’s identities and everyday lives, and faith sensitivity is integral to providing holistic, people-centred MHPSS in humanitarian situations.
With religious identity, practices and beliefs having a profound impact on mental health, faith sensitivity in aid and MHPSS is essential.
Cultural mediation is critical to optimising both access to and quality of mental health services.
Underlying gender and power imbalances that put displaced women and girls at risk of gender-based violence (GBV) are exacerbated by vulnerabilities related to legal status, economic security, access to services, and living conditions.
The limits of operating within humanitarian contexts do not always allow for sufficient time and resources to be devoted to the participatory processes that are vital to establishing community-based approaches to MHPSS.
Physical activity (including sport) is an evidence-based yet under-recognised strategy for protecting and promoting MHPSS among displaced populations.
The pandemic has placed significant additional mental and emotional burdens on forced migrants. MHPSS interventions must be adapted to meet this challenge and not be overlooked in the wake of containment and mitigation efforts.
While COVID-19 is not currently perceived as a serious disease threat to children, its indirect effects as a pandemic on their lives and psychosocial well-being may be profound. Child-friendly spaces may therefore be all the more important, particularly in fragile contexts of displacement.
While the combination of therapy and livelihood creation may appear to be beneficial for refugees’ mental health, the reality in Uganda has been rather different.
In recent decades substantial advances have been made by the humanitarian and development communities in terms of gathering and using data to underpin programming. Significant challenges and gaps remain, however, requiring new approaches and partnerships.
There are huge benefits to be gained from producing statistics that are familiar to, and usable by, governments and development partners.
The recent endorsement of international statistical recommendations on refugees and IDPs will help systematise the inclusion of these vulnerable groups in national policy and development agendas. Much work needs to be done, however, to move the recommendations from paper into practice.
Phone surveys can be particularly useful in times – such as during the current pandemic – when it is difficult to conduct face-to-face surveys, but can present challenges.
There are many challenges that hinder documentation of migrant deaths and disappearances but also much that can be done to improve the coverage and completeness of such data.
Administrative and ethical barriers to DNA data sharing for identification of migrants found along the US–Mexico border exemplify the need for long-term solutions and sustainable processes.
The disappearance of people on migration journeys has reverberating effects on their family and community.
The pandemic has posed additional challenges for bereaved migrant families who mourn the death or disappearance of their loved ones. There are practical ways, however, to assist them.
A strengthened commitment to coordination and collaboration is essential if actors are to be more effective in locating missing migrants and assisting their families. New initiatives offer a path forward.