Great initiative of Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag, to organize a conference with the motto “mind the mind now” on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Crisis Situations. In Amsterdam on 7 & 8 October 2019, Minister Kaag aims to bring home the message that “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support is a necessity in any humanitarian response”. In a tweet on 25 September she states that “Psychosocial support needs to become a standard component of humanitarian aid”. At C4C we applaud Minister Kaag for this initiative…
...even though psychosocial care is of course not a new thing, as the humdrum around the minister’s initiative seems to claim. It has been around for more than 30 years, started to be recognized in the early 1990s, was included in the ‘cluster approach’ of the humanitarian response introduced in 2005, and guidelines on “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings” were accepted widely as from 2007.
But in all that time, not much has really improved in how to provide effective psychosocial care.
Images of children playing games or women talking in groups are still dominant when it comes to picturing psychosocial care. However, a recent systematic review of focused psychosocial interventions found, once again, that these type of interventions may be moderately effective in reducing PTSD symptoms and functional impairment in children, but are mostly helpful in increasing hope, coping, and social support. That is an echo of an important study from 2007, which stated that community efficacy, social connectedness, and hope are the most important elements of psychosocial programming.
In other words, what is effective in psychosocial care points at an approach that puts the mobilization of communities' beliefs and hopes central. The irony is that this does not require mental health professionals! But rather another species, often lacking in the relief world – a kind of social workers who know how to apply existing, often cultural values and resources in order to rebuild and stimulate community efficacy. We try to do this at C4C, and we look forward to find more initiatives like this at the conference. We will keep you posted!
Willem van de Put (C4C) is on the panel in the discussion on: Mental health: only me? or also us?
Alternatives to the individualistic bias of the mindfulness industry
25 September 2019, 19:30 - 21:00, Expo Zaal, Eijffel Gebouw, free entrance, language: english
As part of the International Mental Health Festival, Debatcentrum Sphinx will organize a debate which will take a critical stance towards the individualistic framing of mental health issues: as personal failures, as the incapacity to cope with pressures from work, studies, social media. And around which an industry of mental health therapies and coachings has emerged, all with their own philosophy to teaches individuals to cope and become more resilient.
No matter the importance of taking mental breakdowns very seriously and of finding ways to get back on one’s legs, this framing of mental health issues as individual is not neutral, not innocent, not the only one possible. It tends to render invisible that many of the pressures that make people crash are far from only individual. What is more, it tends to keep us away from developing collaborations and solidarities that might also help prevent breakdown or provide effective coping strategies.
In this debate we will elaborate the critique and discuss ‘alternative’ framings and solutions, with experts and audience.
Simone van Trier will lead the discussion.
The course on mental health in complex emergencies finised last Friday after an intense two weeks in Beirut. On the last day some of us joined the students of #FrydaysForFutureLebanon for a modest but very significant march to join the international outcry for the climate. Well done students of Beirut!
The slogan “No health without mental health” is used more than a decade now to get attention for the lack of mental health services and the continuing stigma.Nowadays, new developments break down the old dichotomy between physical and mental health - as much as there is no cleat line between what is mad and what is 'normal'.
Attending the World Psychiatry Association Meeting in Lisbon, I saw how the full range of psychiatry was represented, from biomedical scientists discussing how lithium added to the drinking water could prevent dementia, to the researcher from an Institute of Islamic Thought who explained how study of the Quran and Hadith helps reduce female infanticide: a female baby should be seen as Glad tidings from God! But there was a common denominator: all agreed that we need to turn to person-centered care, rather than focusing on statistics and diagnostics. That was a Glad Tiding indeed for C4C. I wrote a blog about it here.