6. okt, 2019

Will there be new ideas to "Mind the Mind' at the conference?

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!