Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian crises
by Humanitarian Practice Network July 2018

This edition of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with Anne Harmer, Manager of Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme, focuses on mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian crises. M. Claire Greene and her co-authors highlight opportunities for integrating MHPSS programming in humanitarian response, and discuss ways to overcome the challenges associated with introducing multi-sectoral interventions into existing systems. Davin Mpaka Mbeya and colleagues and Courtney Welton-Mitchell and Leah Emily James share research and operational experience from the Central African Republic and Haiti. Catherine Panter-Brick, Jon Kurtz and Rana Dajani reflect on how academics and practitioners can partner effectively to produce actionable evidence in humanitarian settings. Alison Schafer and her co-authors make the case for scaling up MHPSS interventions to reach more people at lower cost.

Emma Soye discusses learning programmes for children in the Syrian refugee response, and Fiona Samuels, Nicola Jones and Bassam Abu Hamad explore adolescent girls’ psychosocial vulnerabilities in Gaza, Liberia and Sri Lanka. Theresa S. Betancourt’s article focuses on a mental health intervention for young people in Sierra Leone, and Karine Le Roche and Cecile Bizouerne highlight Action contre La Faim’s experience with psychosocial support as part of nutrition interventions for children in Nepal. Sexual and gender-based violence is addressed in an article by Ayesha Ahmad, Lida Ahmad and Jenevieve Mannell on story-telling as a therapeutic intervention in Afghanistan.

A series of articles explore mental health issues in the Middle East. Relinde Reiffers, Kimberly Stam and Suzan Mitwalli offer insights from a community support programme in the West Bank, Patricia Moghames, Fiona McEwen and Michael Pluess summarise findings from research with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Nour Kik and Rabih El Chammay reflect on the Lebanese government-led MHPSS coordination mechanism and Marie Darmayan and Dia Abou Mosleh discuss Médecins du Monde’s support for mental health care provision in Lebanon and Iraq. To conclude the issue, Leslie Snider, Alison Schafer and Carina Hjelmstam Winberg summarise the findings from a retrospective study on Psychological First Aid, and Cecilie Dineson looks at the mental health needs of volunteers in humanitarian responses.