At the MHPSS Collaborative, we believe that mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for children and families is crucial to successful disaster responses and recovery. We work to ensure innovations in MHPSS are prioritized and integrated in the following areas of humanitarian work: education, migration and displacement, climate change, and suicide prevention. We have also been active in supporting the humanitarian field’s MHPSS response to covid-19.
The global pandemic has had a significant impact on the wellbeing of children and families everywhere, and especially in crisis settings. Interruptions to humanitarian programming including school and child-friendly spaces in refugee and IDP camps, education, and fear that they themselves or their families may become infected or die, takes a toll on the mental health of children and their caregivers already coping with the stress of emergency settings.
During the pandemic, the MHPSS Collaborative is supporting the IASC Reference Group for MHPSS in Emergency Settings, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, Save the Children, and the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) with technical advice and the development of practical resources for the field, participating in global webinars disseminating information on mental health and covid-19, and advocating for the prioritization of MHPSS in covid-19 responses.
Children and adolescents exposed to violence and conflict need nurturing and healing learning environments to recover, learn, and reach their full potential. Together with local partners, regional authorities, and international actors, we integrate MHPSS into education and livelihood skills programs in humanitarian settings in innovative ways. The knowledge generated from these projects is then applied to advocacy work promoting the integration of MHPSS elements into education programming. Our projects have included partnerships with Education Cannot Wait, the World Bank, and Porticus in Uganda, South Sudan, Mali, and across borders.
Migration and displacement
70.8 million people, of which more than half are under the age of 18, are forcibly displaced from their homes today due to persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, according to UNHCR. MHPSS offers lifesaving opportunities to address the psychological and social impacts of being forced to flee one’s home under such conditions. Existing MHPSS services are typically specific to a certain location or, if mobile, rarely follow the person as they cross country borders, but children and families in these circumstances are often on the move. We work toward finding durable solutions to “seamless” access of MHPSS along migration routes.
Climate change is an increasing source of anxiety for many youth and a driving force behind many fragile circumstances that children and families face. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, limited natural resources, and droughts threaten livelihoods, compound food insecurity, stoke conflict between communities, and can force people to flee their homes. As climate change shapes their wellbeing and future, the MHPSS Collaborative works with young people to advocate for the prioritization of climate change on the global humanitarian agenda.
High rates of suicide among youth in humanitarian settings is an alarming emerging trend. We contribute to the development of international resources for the prevention of suicide in humanitarian settings.