#MHPSSMatters for #OurSharedFuture
Every year, millions of people flee their homes to escape unimaginable hardship. In 2015 alone, there was a 10% increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people, to 65.3 million worldwide. Responding to their physical and psychosocial needs is a pressing challenge that transcends borders, sectors and disciplines.
And yet, there is an attitude even within the relatively small field of global mental health, that this isn’t “our” problem, but rather the purview of a niche category of humanitarian specialists.
It is not particularly useful to depict the community of innovators focused on mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for survivors of disaster and conflict as somehow separate from the diverse community of mental health researchers, practitioners and policy-makers who—all too often—find their field sites transformed into war zones, their offices destroyed by floods, their people corralled into camps. Current events have transformed mental health innovators into MHPSS innovators, by necessity.
At the same time, the humanitarian sector is increasingly being challenged to think beyond short-term response, to long-term health systems strengthening. The World Health Organisation’s Building Back Better report highlights a number of exciting examples where humanitarian aid has been leveraged to significantly increase the quality and coverage of mental health services. Organisations like CBM—one of the MHPSS innovators-by-necessity born out of the West African Ebola virus epidemic—are starting to reframe mental health systems strengthening as a crucial element of disaster preparedness and risk reduction.
Simply put, the boundaries between MHPSS innovators and “the rest of us” in global mental health are breaking down. As the World Bank’s Patricio Marquez advocated in his blog on mental health among displaced people and refugees last year, it’s crucial that we harness our complementary skills, resources and expertise, in order to respond to the world’s most pressing challenges—now more than ever before.
That’s why mhpss.net and mhinnovation.net are working together to promote World Refugee Day (20 June) and the United Kingdom’s Refugee Week (19-25 June) this year. We’ll be sharing key messages and resources from both networks and encouraging innovators to join the discussion on social media.
So, whether or not you consider yourself a seasoned MHPSS expert, we want to hear from you. Log on to twitter or facebook and tell us why you stand #WithRefugees, and why you think #MHPSSMatters for #OurSharedFuture.
Image: Children affected by flooding play football in Pakistan. © 2011 SHER & GUL, Courtesy of Photoshare