Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Minimum Service Package now hosted on MHIN
Emergencies such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and famines significantly impact people's mental health and psychosocial well-being. It is estimated that one in five people (22.1%) who have lived in a conflict-affected area in the past decade have experienced depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.1 While attention to the mental health and psychosocial well-being of people affected by emergencies has increased noticeably in recent years,2 too often, programming is still fragmented, inconsistent, and inequitable.3
The recently released IASC Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Minimum Service Package (MHPSS MSP) is an easy-to-use package that strengthens collective humanitarian action by facilitating a unified response to MHPSS needs. The package outlines the minimum MHPSS activities that should be implemented in all emergency settings across sectors and areas of responsibility (AoRs), providing a common language to coordinate and communicate about MHPSS. Each MSP activity has a brief introduction, a checklist of actions required to implement the activity safely and effectively, and a list of relevant guidelines to support implementation. Each MSP activity is labelled with icons to indicate the sectors, clusters, or AoRs that are typically well-placed to deliver or contribute to it.
The IASC MHPSS MSP is a tool for organizations planning, supporting, coordinating, implementing, funding, and evaluating humanitarian activities. Humanitarian actors writing programme proposals can easily see what each activity entails. Donors can use the MSP when making decisions about resource allocation. People coordinating the humanitarian response can use the MSP to identify gaps in different sectors and what additional activities may be needed to meet the mental health needs of affected populations.
“Previously you had to rely on documents or guidance that you could find from reference networks, actors, or colleagues, in- or outside of country [...] The MSP as something developed with global knowledge and experience from different actors around the world, including education practitioners, is a much stronger resource to refer to when you develop projects”.
(Quote from an MHPSS Technical Advisor at an INGO during the MHPSS MSP test-phase)
The IASC MHPSS MSP has been developed by the IASC MHPSS Reference Group: a collaboration of more than 60 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including United Nations agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations, and research institutes. The package is based on existing guidelines, evidence, research, and expert consensus. It was developed over three years and included global field-testing with demonstration sites in Colombia, Iraq, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan, and Ukraine.
A digital platform has been developed to facilitate the use and implementation of the IASC MHPSS MSP. MHIN is excited to support this initiative and to host the digital platform on the MHIN website since April 2023. The MHPSS MSP platform is interactive, accessible, and multi-lingual, and has been tested by multiple agencies at the global and country level.
The platform presents the content of the IASC MHPSS MSP in an interactive format, and provides additional content such as: a video tour, MSP orientation webinars; video reflections from MSP users, guidance on using the MSP in public health emergencies; compiled resources for at-risk groups; lists of guidelines, standards and tools to inform the planning and implementation of each activity; a Gap Analysis Tool; and a Costing Tool. Translations of the IASC MHPSS MSP and the digital platform are ongoing in multiple languages.
MHIN hopes its community and others interested will benefit from the MHPSS MSP digital platform and that it will support their work in new and protracted crises, disaster risk reduction, and longer-term development initiatives. Please take a look at the platform here and share with your colleagues and networks!
- Charlson, F., van Ommeren, M., Flaxman, A., Cornett, J., Whiteford, H., & Saxena, S. (2019). New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 394(10194), 240-248.
- Jones, L., & Ventevogel, P. (2021). From exception to the norm: how mental health interventions have become part and parcel of the humanitarian response. World Psychiatry, 20(1), 2.
- The MHPSS Collaborative. (2021). Follow the money: Global funding of child and family MHPSS activities in development and humanitarian assistance, Copenhagen.