Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Guidelines to Improve Psychological and Social Support in Emergencies

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Guidelines to Improve Psychological and Social Support in Emergencies

Article excerpt

A new set of guidelines to address the mental health and psychosocial needs of survivors of conflict and disaster have been agreed by international humanitarian agencies.

Under the 'Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings' from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the protection and promotion of mental health and psychosocial well-being is positioned as the responsibility of all humanitarian agencies and workers, rather than only of psychiatrists and psychologists.

Armed conflicts and natural disasters can cause significant psychological and social suffering to affected populations, both in the short and long terms. One of the priorities in emergencies is to protect and improve people's mental health and psychosocial well-being. However, a significant gap has been the absence of a multi-sectoral, interagency framework that enables effective coordination and identifies useful practices, and these guidelines are aimed at filling this gap.

The guidelines cover the three phases of an emergency, i.e. emergency preparedness steps to be taken before emergencies occur, the minimum responses to be implemented during the acute phase of the emergency, and the comprehensive responses to be implemented once the minimum responses have been implemented, typically during the stabilised and early reconstruction phases of the emergency. …

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