Among humanitarian actors it is recognised that armed conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics cause significant psychological and social suffering to affected populations. Emergencies erode protective supports that are normally available, increase the risks of diverse problems and tend to amplify pre-existing problems. The psychological and social impacts of emergencies may be acute in the short term and can undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population, threaten peace, human rights and development. Previous emergencies have shown high numbers of patients presenting multiple somatic complaints; this group of patients places a heavy burden on the available health care delivery system.

During emergencies, delegates, National Society staff and volunteers have a great need for information – and very little time to seek out and sort through all the available information. In this section, the PS Centre aims to collect the most relevant information about psyschosocial support in emergencies, both in general terms and in relation to specific emergencies.