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About us

Read more about who we are and what we stand for

Our purpose

What We Stand For

The MHPSS Collaborative is a global platform for research, innovation, learning and advocacy. In the field of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), we connect key academic and humanitarian actors with local civil society to give children and families in fragile circumstances the possibility to thrive.

The MHPSS Collaborative was born out of a response to a growing body of research on the impacts of Children’s exposure globally to unprecedented rates of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly those in crisis, migration and displacement situations. Exposure to critical incidents and long-term adversity, and the failure of adequate child protection and nurturance, leads to devastating impacts on children’s physical and mental development, their potential to actively engage in the building of inclusive, peaceful societies, and the socio-economic development and stability of communities as a whole.

Investing in resilience-building and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for children, youth and families in fragile and humanitarian contexts is a critical precondition for sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

The MHPSS Collaborative works across the sector to:

  1. Convene and facilitate partnerships to engage a broad range of stakeholders
  2. Develop and share knowledge, and advance local-to-global research
  3. Advocate toward donors and decision-makers for MHPSS as a life-saving measure

We focus on emerging challenges that require immediate attention for children and families in adversity:

  • Education in emergencies and the importance of integrating MHPSS
  • Migration and displacement: cross border care for children and families on the move
  • Climate change and the cycle of impact on children’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing
  • Suicide prevention in humanitarian settings

Our Values

The voices of children and families matter

Meaningful partnerships are essential

Local and global knowledge and experience must come together

Who we are

The team

Leslie Snider, MD, MPH

Director

Leslie is a psychiatrist and public health professional with over 20 years’ experience in MHPSS programmes and research in diverse global settings. She began as a public mental health clinician while directing International Mental Health and Medical Anthropology Studies for ten years at Tulane Public Health School. She has worked with UN agencies, governments and NGOs in quality MHPSS care for children and families affected by disasters, conflict, HIV/AIDS, poverty and exploitation, and has developed several widely used international resources for MHPSS in emergencies. She most enjoyed writing a small children’s book for children and caregivers affected by the Ebola crisis.

Ashley Nemiro, LMFT, Ph.D

MHPSS Technical Advisor

Dr. Ashley Nemiro has worked as a global mental health professional in humanitarian settings since 2011 following a career as a licensed family therapist and refugee resettlement program coordinator. She received her doctorate from North Carolina State University where she spent three years travelling to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct her dissertation research and run a non-profit alongside Congolese women. Ashley focuses on integrating mental health care into health, education and protection services, developing supervision systems and training and supporting staff on the use of psychological interventions for children and adults across Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Jura Augustinavicius, Ph.D

Research Advisor, Lead on Climate Change

Dr. Jura Augustinavicius is a global mental health researcher and an Assistant Scientist in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she teaches courses on Climate Change and Mental Health. She completed a doctorate and postdoctoral fellowship in Public Mental Health with special training in global mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her current work focuses on climate change and mental health,  youth engagement, and MHPSS in humanitarian settings.

Mary Jo Baca, MPH, MSW

MHPSS Technical Advisor, Lead on Education in Emergencies

Mary Jo is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) and specializes in mental health and psychosocial care as well as child and youth protection. Mary Jo gained several years of diverse international experience with NGOs and UN agencies developing a wide range of sustainable programming with the aim to empower the protection and wellbeing of refugees and other vulnerable populations. She previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, worked in several child-focused residential centers, practiced as a clinical social worker serving children, youth, and families, and provided clinical services at the Veterans Administration Hospital in the United States. She worked for several years in the Middle East supporting development and emergency response programs, including assisting and leading the establishment of protection and MHPSS programming in Za’tari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan.

Andreas H. Jespersen, MS

Programmes Officer

Andreas Jespersen holds a bachelor’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, and a master’s degree in Global Refugee Studies. Andreas has focused on the implications of refugees attempting migration and attempting return to one’s country of origin, in terms of MHPSS and social stigmatization. He has worked on various international projects prior to joining the MHPSS Collaborative in Zimbabwe and Liberia. Currently he supports the Collaborative’s MHPSS and climate change projects, youth engagement initiatives, and maintaining the Collaborative’s portfolio overview.

Kate Harris, MS

Project Officer

Kate holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Global Studies, focusing on asylum seeker rights and experiences. She has worked in a variety of project support and management roles in the NGO and education sector in Australia, Mexico and Sweden. Her current role provides support to the Collaborative’s MHPSS and Education in Emergencies team.

Ellen R. Pucke, MSW

Operations Officer

Ellen Pucke is a social worker with a background in refugee mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), community organizing, and person-centered service design in the United States, Hong Kong, and Denmark. Her role with the MHPSS Collaborative is to make sure all is running smoothly behind the scenes.

Yousra Semmache

Communications & Advocacy Officer

Yousra Semmache is an advocacy, media and communications specialist with experience in advocating for children’s rights in humanitarian settings. She has worked for several years in the Middle East, including in Iraq, the Syria regional refugee crisis, the occupied Palestinian territory and Yemen. As part of her humanitarian advocacy work, she has focused on issues affecting children and families in conflict contexts such as education in emergencies, grave violations against children’s rights and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). She has also worked on engagement of adolescents and youth in decision making about their futures in Syria and Yemen. In her current role, she supports the Collaborative in communications and advocacy related to thematic areas, programmes and key local and global MHPSS advocacy moments.

Maggie Zraly, PH.D

MHPSS and Equity Advisor

Maggie is a medical and psychological anthropologist and public health professional with over 15 years of research and practice experience at the intersections of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and MHPSS. She started with in-depth ethnographic research on resilience among Rwandan women and girls who survived genocide-rape and emotional well-being and inequality among Rwandan youth heads of household. She has worked with NGOs, universities, governments, UN agencies, and community-based groups on global mental health, sexual violence prevention, health equity, substance use, human trafficking, and child protection and MHPSS. So far, she’s been most enthusiastic about collaboration across culture, context, and scale to elevate the value of local knowledge and embodied experience, dismantle systemic oppressions, and accelerate the achievement of mental health and well-being equity among children and youth in fragile and humanitarian settings.

Victor Ugo, MBBS, MSc

MHPSS and Youth Engagement Advisor

Victor is a medical doctor and the founder of Nigeria’s and one of Africa’s biggest youth-led and user-led youth mental health network, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI). With an MSc in Global Mental Health from Kings College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Victor has been at the forefront of elevating the global discourse on youth mental health and is passionate about conversations regarding the decolonialisation of mental health as well as representation in the global mental health sector.


Our steering committee

Alison Schafer
World Health Organization

Michael Ungar
Resilience Research Centre

Ananda Galappatti
MHPSS.net

Brighton Gwezera
REPSSI

Peter Ventevogel
UNHCR

Mark Jordans
War Child Holland; Kings College London

Nana Wiedemann
IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support

Zeinab Hijazi
UNICEF

Roger Hearn
Save the Children Denmark

Guglielmo Schinina
International Organization for Migration

Lorraine Sherr
Royal Free and University College Medical School, London; 
and Editor, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies

Our partnerships

We are hosted and funded by

The MHPSS Collaborative is hosted by Save the Children, sharing a location in its offices in Copenhagen, Denmark. We are grateful to Danida for providing the seed funding for our core activities and existence. Danida is Denmark’s development cooperation, an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.


We are proud to work with

Working in partnership is one of our core values. We are proud to have current and past partnerships with these outstanding entities, working together to solve critical issues for child and family mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

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