Advocate, Coordinate & Network
Coordination, networking and advocacy take place at various levels (national, regional and community) and promote regular flows of information, help fill gaps, strengthen referral between service providers, support inclusion of national expertise and community voices, and raise awareness on mental health issues among key stakeholders such as governments.
When planning and implementing an integrated mental health program, it is important to communicate with national actors and other international agencies from the start, to make sure the program fits within the larger context and is well understood by different stakeholders. Coordination and networking are necessary to obtain relevant input from different stakeholders and keep them informed about the program. Advocacy activities can help promote the human rights of persons with mental disorders and reduce stigma and discrimination. Such activities also support equitable access to quality mental health services while ensuring that mental health is on the national agenda of governments and humanitarian actors including donors. Advocacy can ultimately lead to improvements in policy, resource allocation, legislation and service development.
Coordination, networking and advocacy efforts are conducted with key stakeholders (e.g. local and international NGOs, national and local government, UN agencies, civil society organizations, program managers, mental health professionals, and PHC staff). This can include:
- Regular coordination, discussions and collaboration with MoH and district level government agencies, and peripheral health facilities and with other relevant stakeholders at the community level.
- Facility level and community-based awareness activities that tackle issues of stigma and provide information about mental health and accessing services.
- Advocacy for allocating needed resources and efforts for integration of mental health within general health care.
- Support to mental health service user and carer groups in leading advocacy efforts at various levels, including government, facility and community levels.
- Ensure to communicate about your MH PHC integration project as part of MHPSS coordination groups and other relevant clusters and working groups (e.g. Health Cluster, Protection Cluster).
- Work in line with existing national mental health strategies, plans or policies1.
- Identify pre-existing advocacy efforts led by group such as service users, or other relevant civil society organizations and link with any champions in the government who have an interest in supporting mental health.
- Carry out and/or participate in mapping of other agencies and their activities, to facilitate the finding of opportunities for partnerships, and alignment of agendas (see step 1: Assess & Plan for MH Integration).
1 Access resources within Mental Health Plans & Polices subcategory below to understand and support national mental health plans and policies.
- Conduct information sessions about mental health PHC integration at MHPSS and non-MHPSS coordination groups (e.g. MHPSS, health, protection, wash, nutrition, etc.), describing cross sectoral importance.
- Work with government representatives and others on developing and/or implementing national mental health policies and plans in line with global recommendations.
- Promote the participation of persons with mental disorders in decision making processes on issues affecting them, including policy, law, and service reform.
- Identify the key factors for maximizing mental health sustainability and scalability, including advocating for the expansion and improvement of universally accessible and affordable mental health services (e.g. including mental health as part of the basic service package for health, including mental health in public or private coverage and insurance benefits.
Engage stakeholders and participate in coordination mechanisms starting in the early stages of assessment & planning (step 1). This includes communication and collaboration at various levels (national, regional and community). Build effective partnerships, raise awareness and advocate for mental health with key decision makers.