Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Well-Being in Emergencies: How are we doing?

May 6, 2015 |
This is a review of the Implementation of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Emergency Settings

May 7, 2015 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT.

National Press Building (NPB), 529 14th Street,
Suite 700, Washington, DC 20045


Arrival and coffee

Welcome - Jennifer Groves, Child Protection Advisor/Global Health Fellow, OFDA

Introduction, presentation of the findings of the Review

  Saji Thomas, Child Protection specialist, Psychosocial Support, UNICEF New York

  Dr. Inka Weissbecker, PhD, MPH, Global Mental Health and Psychosocial Advisor, International Medical Corps

  Ann Willhoite, International Clinical Advisor, The Center for Victims of Torture, Washington, DC

Questions and Feedback

Plenary Discussion, Chair - Dr. Inka Weissbecker

  The Guidelines review and its implications for programming in a changing context

Conclusion, Vote of Thanks - Jennifer Groves

Please RSVP to Annie Sovcik at asovcik@CVT.ORG


In 2007, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) released the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, which was developed and widely endorsed by various UN agencies including UNICEF and WHO, NGOs and academic institutions. One of the factors motivating the development of the Guidelines was a recognition of the significant divisions in the field of MHPSS in emergency settings and limited knowledge about MHPSS best practices among many actors. Key actors were aware that both the quality and coordination of services and supports were essential to bringing effective mental health and psychosocial support to individuals in emergencies and avoiding the risk of harm. The guidelines were created with these objectives in mind.

In 2014, following seven years of implementation in the field, the IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support undertook a review of the implementation of the guidelines to better understand the existing use of the guidelines, the successes, challenges and gaps. The study was commissioned by UNICEF, Headquarters, New York on behalf of the Reference Group and made possible with funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)/U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). With an escalation of conflicts and crises around the world, the timing of the review couldn’t have been better. The increasing complexity of humanitarian situations also demands that there be greater reflections on the findings of this review exercise.

Findings of the review indicate that that the positive impact of the Guidelines has been widespread and significant. The study, however, also highlights gaps and challenges in programming. Seven years of dissemination, utilization and implementation of the Guidelines in a range of vastly differing contexts has offered an opportunity for reflection, consolidation and mapping of the next steps towards strengthening and improving the MHPSS response in emergencies.

The Consultation The IASC Reference Group on MHPSS, supported by UNICEF, USAID/OFDA and the Global Mental Health Advocacy Working Group (Co-chaired by Centre for Victims of Torture (CVT) & International Medical Corps (IMC)), is organizing a half-day consultation, in which the findings of the most recent review will be presented and discussions around its implications will be held.

Key Objectives of the Consultation

  1. Present the findings of the review with focus on institutionalization, mainstreaming and implementation of the IASC MHPSS guidelines.
  2. Analyze the findings of the review in the context of new crises and escalation of conflicts around the world and the critical role of MHPSS.
Find more information [PDF, 816 KB].