Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

Special Initiative on Displacement Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)

Violence and displacement not only have devastating effects on countries' infrastructure, security, and economic development. Crises of this kind also have a massive impact on the psychological and social well-being of the individuals, families and societies affected. Emotional wounds and psychosocial needs are often less visible than physical wounds, but no less life-threatening.

People in crisis situations often have to cope with experiences that can have far-reaching and lasting emotional, psychological and social effects. They experience the loss of their social environment and the loss of control over and access to resources such as education and training. 

This is accompanied by increased poverty, heightened vulnerability, and a lack of prospects. Crises may also lead to increased tensions and conflict, and a higher risk of sexualised and gender-based violence. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in five people in situations of displacement and conflict suffers from a mental illness.


MHPSS

The term "Mental Health and Psychosocial Support" (MHPSS) refers to measures to protect and improve people's mental well-being and those social aspects that have an influence on mental well-being (such as the social environment, living conditions, values, and cultural aspects).

In development cooperation, social conflicts, social hardship and psychological distress are always taken into consideration as closely interrelated aspects – neither must be neglected in the related measures.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization
Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being. (...) World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General of the World Health Organization

German activities Strengthening the mental health and psychosocial well-being of people in crises

Cover Guiding Framework for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Development Cooperation

Guiding Framework for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Development Cooperation

As exemplified in the context of the crises in Syria and Iraq

File type PDF | Date of status 06/2018 | File size 1 MB, Pages 64 Pages

Projects in the field of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support have the aim of promoting psychosocial well-being and treating and reducing mental illness. They are to activate people's coping strategies and focus on protecting human dignity.

Support for quality MHPSS projects is part of the BMZ's portfolio. In cooperation with experts and in accordance with international standards, the BMZ has published the Guiding Framework for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Development Cooperation. It identifies characteristics and principles that constitute good psychosocial work in crisis contexts.

German activities International cooperation

The BMZ is working to make MHPSS an integral part of international development cooperation. To this end, the BMZ has joined an international donor group on MHPSS and works closely with multilateral partner organisations such as UNICEF and UNHCR.

In order to better understand the impacts of psychosocial support in situations of displacement and in order to foster innovative approaches – especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – the BMZ is funding various studies on these topics. A systematic review of the state of research that has been launched in cooperation with the University of Virginia and GIZ is providing the first-ever overview of the effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of psychosocial support in displacement contexts.

In 2018, the BMZ and UNICEF jointly hosted an expert meeting on "Rebuilding Lives". At that conference, participants discussed ways of firmly establishing MHPSS measures as an element of development cooperation in protracted crises.

Titelblatt: Psychosocial Support Interventions  in the Context of Forced Displacement

Psychosocial Support Interventions  in the Context of Forced Displacement

Process and Findings from a Systematic Review of the Global Literature

File type PDF | Date of status 02/2021 | File size 804 KB
Titelblatt: Rebuilding Lives

Rebuilding Lives

Addressing Needs, Scaling Up and Increasing Long-term Structural MHPSS Interventions  in Protracted and Post-Conflict Settings | Report | Expert Meeting Berlin 4 – 5 July 2018

File type PDF | Date of status 07/2018 | File size 1 MB
Titelblatt: Recommendation Paper on Training and Capacity Development in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Development Cooperation

Recommendation Paper on Training and Capacity Development in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Development Cooperation

As Exemplified in the Context of the Crises in Syria and Iraq

File type PDF | Date of status 08/2019 | File size 1 MB

Examples MHPSS in crisis and displacement contexts 

Through its Special Initiative on Displacement, the BMZ supports mental health in situations of conflict and displacement around the world.

Since 2014, it has funded more than 70 projects that improve psychosocial well-being and minimise distress. Among other things, psychosocial support services for displaced people and host communities are supported at community level, capacity building for health personnel is provided, and frontline workers are supported through staff care measures.

These projects have already reached more than 445,000 people. The BMZ is thus contributing to targets 3.4 and 3.5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.