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Special Initiative on Displacement Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)
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.
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.
German activities Strengthening the mental health and psychosocial well-being of people in crises
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.
Examples MHPSS in crisis and displacement contexts
Through its Special Initiative “Displaced Persons and Host Countries”, 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.