Global coordination of MHPSS in Emergency Settings

  • July 2, 2019
July 2, 2019

Global coordination of MHPSS in Emergency Settings

Photo: IASC

In humanitarian emergencies it is vital that responding agencies coordinate their actions. In between the emergencies, it’s equally important that the same agencies cooperate on learning from their experiences, expand their knowledge base and advocate for more and better MHPSS response with donors and policy makers.

The IFRC PS Centre has taken a leading global role in this as Co-Chair of the IASC Reference Group on MHPSS in Emergency Settings (MHPSS RG) since 2016 and in this way also placed the National Societies in a central role in the international MHPSS community.

This work continued throughout 2018 together with the World Health Organization (WHO) as the other Co-Chair. The MHPSS RG supports country-level mental health and psychosocial support working groups in various humanitarian contexts (including forced migration, natural disaster and protracted crises). Throughout 2018, the Co-Chairs responded to 250 requests from 62 different agencies operating in 36 humanitarian contexts around the world. In-country visits were also conducted to Afghanistan, Cox’s Bazar-Bangladesh, North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Uganda and Ukraine.

Established in 2007, the MHPSS RG consists of over 50 member humanitarian agencies/organisations and fosters a unique collaboration between the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, NGOs, UN agencies and academics all working to improve the scale and quality of MHPSS programmes. The coordination and day-day management of the group is maintained through two Co-Chair agencies. In-country technical support through missions, remote support, policy development, and high-level advocacy, knowledge exchange and strengthened coordination are part of the work of the Co-Chairs.

A number of high-level MHPSS advocacy events occurred in 2018, where the Co-Chairs represented the MHPSS RG. Most notably the UK Government held a Ministerial  Mental Health Summit in London, and the German Government co-hosted a meeting with UNICEF focusing on children and youth in conflict settings to carry forward the recommendations from an earlier conference at Wilton Park. In 2019, the MHPSS RG will continue to work on its core areas in addition to finalising the means of verification (data collection toolkit) to accompany the Inter-Agency Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for MHPSS, to establish an inter-agency MHPSS surge support mechanism to boost the human resources and coordination at country-level, and to build the capacity of the country-level MHPSS Working Group leads though a 4-day retreat.