Oct 24 / Leslie Snider
During last year’s unprecedented attention to MHPSS by several governments, the UK hosted the first Ministerial Mental Health Summit in October 2018, handing off in 2019 to the government of the Netherlands in their international conference “Mind the Mind Now” –joining of perspectives from policy makers, researchers, practitioners, musicians and artists, and people with profound lived experience. The Collaborative was pleased to be able to participate actively in both Summits.
In 2018, we presented both the growing needs and innovative solutions being generated by members of the UK Civil Society Group at a roundtable event with DFID. This year we supported the child and adolescent working group, co-chaired by our steering committee members, Zeinab Hijaz of UNICEF and Mark Jordans of War Child. Aligned with our work supporting integration of MHPSS into Education Cannot Wait, we helped to highlight the need for attention to MHPSS integrated into education as a key point of entry for reaching children and adolescents with key services and support. We also joined a distinguished panel of presenters at the Summit on child and adolescent issues, focusing our presentation and small group facilitation on Children on the Move. Talented graphic artists at the Summit beautifully illustrated our rich discussions (see the photo below).
We have key recommendations for children and adolescents from our group’s work during 2019 Summit:
- Support the caregivers in children’s social environments – parents and communities – as those closest to children and providing first-line support in emergencies,
- Act early (early detection and prevention) to ensure children get the best possible start and to prevent future mental health problems later in life,
- Ensure MHPSS is integrated across sectors where children access care, such as health, educational, protection and social service systems,
- Build the evidence base for various kinds of MHPSS interventions for children, and translate research into practice in the challenging environments in which we work.
We were delighted to have representatives our donor Danida join the active discussion in our small group, and to hear the Collaborative mentioned as one of the Danish government’s core investments in MHPSS for children and families. We hope to see a future Summit hosted by the Danish government! Until then, we applaud all of the governments stepping up attention to this important issue and will be tracking the progress in the coming years to increase funding for MHPSS from its current 0.14% to a target of 5%. As Shekhar Saxena says, “Do not ask if you can afford MHPSS, ask whether you can afford not to!”