World Mental Health Day

The theme of this World Mental Health Day, Monday 10 October 2011, is “Investing in Mental Health.” Financial and human resources allocated for mental health are largely inadequate, especially in contexts of emergencies and post-crisis reconstruction. According to the UN Secretary General, “We cannot expect improvement in global mental health statistics unless we increase financial and other support for promoting mental health and providing adequate services to those who need them.”


Photo courtesy of the International Rescue Committee

This month, INEE has launched a Thematic Spotlight on Psychosocial Support around World Mental Health Day to promote dialogue on mental health and psychosocial support through education in emergencies and post-crisis recovery. Children and youth are deeply affected by loss and trauma that can be brought on or exacerbated by natural disasters, armed conflict and poverty. Lack of perceived support from parents, classmates and teachers have shown an association with more post-traumatic stress and lower school performance. Conversely, psychosocial protection may be offered in schools through opportunities for self-expression, the expansion of social networks and access to structure and regular routines. By placing children in the social role of learners, education gives children a sense of purpose and self-worth.

Resources collected and collated by INEE

BRIEF: INEE Thematic Issue Brief: Psychosocial Support

This brief summarises the mainstreaming of psychosocial well-being in the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook.


TOOL: Guidance Note for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: Haiti Earthquake Emergency Response, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2010.

This guidance is based on the IASC Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Guidelines in Emergency Settings and highlights those aspects of the Guidelines that are particularly relevant for the current response in Haiti. It also draws on knowledge and experiences of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) responses in previous emergencies, including the 2004 tsunami response and the 2009 Gaza crisis.


TOOL: Six Orientations Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies, Nancy Baron, IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, January 2010.

This tool provides six sample Orientation Seminars for WASH, food security, education, donors, media, and general aid workers. It draws upon the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. The design follows six parts: 1. Assessment 2.Goals 3.Seminar Step-by-step 4.Monitoring of learning during the seminar 5.Evaluation and 6.Reading and Handouts.


TOOL: Orientation for Education Staff on Psychosocial Support and EducationNancy Baron, IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, January 2010.

This tool is an example of an Orientation Seminar for members of the Education Cluster and/or other education actors. It draws upon the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, in particular the Education Action Sheet.


TOOL: Learning Spaces and School Facilities, Extracted from UNESCO IIEP’s Guidebook for Planning Education in Emergencies and Reconstruction, 2010.
This chapter contains a series of strategies to ensure access to safe learning spaces to provide for children’s daily basic needs during school hours as well as an excerpt of the Immediately, Sooner, Later Matrix of Response focused on site selection, shelter and furniture.


TOOL: Psychosocial Support to Learners, Extracted from UNESCO IIEP’s Guidebook for Planning Education in Emergencies and Reconstruction, 2010.

This chapter contains a summary of suggested strategies for providing psychosocial support to learners and guidance for implementing the suggested strategies (p. 113-19), a matrix of symptoms of distress (p. 120), and a series of best practices in providing psychosocial support (p. 121).


PRESENTATION: Psychosocial Support in EiE Transition: A View From UNICEF Programs in Iraq, Jordan & Sudan, Mike Wells, Global Consultation, 2009.

This presentation provides an overview of ISAC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial support on Emergencies Settings, School-based Program exemplars-UNICEF/Iraq, UNICEF/Jordan and UNICEF/Sudan and presents challenges and opportunities.


TOOLChild Psychosocial Distress Screener [CPDS], HealthNet TPO, 2008.
The CPDS is a multi-source instrument that assesses non-specific child psychosocial distress and the likelihood of need for psychosocial support/care. The instrument is developed as a primary screener in low-and middle-income settings, for children between 8 and 14 years old. The instrument has been used as a screener for a classroom-based psychosocial intervention (CBI), which in turn was part of a larger psychosocial care package.


PAPER: Children and the Sphere standard on mental and social aspects of health, Jodi Morris, Mark van Ommeren, Myron Belfer, Shekhar Saxena and Benedetto Saraceno, 2007.
This paper offers a child-focused review of the evidence for each of the interventions described as indicators for the Sphere standard on mental and social aspects of health. It suggests some, but limited, support for each of them.


TOOL: Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, IASC, 2007.

The IASC Guidelines enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency. The Guidelines offer essential advice on how to facilitate an integrated approach to address the most urgent mental health and psychosocial issues in emergency situations. Download the accompanying poster, here. The Guidelines are also available in  Arabic  |  French  | Nepali  |  Spanish 


TOOL: Eliminating Violence Against Children , UNICEF, 2007.
This handbook is designed to promote active and effective follow-up by parliaments and parliamentarians throughout the world to the recommendations of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children. The ultimate goal of this handbook is to move States rapidly towards the elimination of all forms of violence against children.


TOOL: A Toolkit on Positive Discipline: with Particular Emphasis on South & Central Asia, Save the Children, 2007.

This toolkit was developed by a regional group of experienced people working to end physical and humiliating punishment. This chapter looks at the complex matrix of power relations, violence and abuse that underline physical and psychological punishments and presents a series of arguments for ending physical and psychological punishment.


REPORT: Where the Heart Is: Meeting the psychosocial needs of young children in the context of HIV/AIDS, Linda Richter, Geoff Foster and Lorraine Sherr, Bernard van Leer Foundation,2006.

This report is an output of a series of workshops on psychosocial support held in 2004-2005 by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Coalition on Children Affected by AIDS. The authors discuss the issues surrounding psychosocial care and support for children made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and make recommendations for future priorities and programming directions.


TOOL: Creating Healing Classrooms: Tools for Teachers & Teacher Educators, International Rescue Committee, Child and Youth Protection and Development Unit, 2006.

This document is a collection of some of the tools and ideas behind the innovations in teacher support and development that have been created and piloted through the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Healing Classrooms Initiative. It is intended to serve as a resource for IRC staff working to improve their programs related to teacher support and development, as well as education program and policy makers in other agencies and organizations.


PAPER: Stressors, Supports and the Social Ecology of Displacement: Psychosocial Dimensions of an EmergencyTheresa Stichick Betancourt, 2005.

This study explored the psychosocial benefits of an emergency education intervention serving adolescents displaced by the war in Chechnya. It set out to describe key stressors and sources of social support available to youth served by the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) emergency education program.


TOOL: Teacher Training: Psychosocial Support, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), 2005.
This module looks at the role of schools and teachers in understanding and responding to the psychosocial needs of traumatised children. This includes information on guidance and counseling of children.


REPORT: Education for All in the Conflict Zones of Uganda, Martha Bragin, 2004.
This report, which targets CBOs, NGOs, social workers, and policymakers, proposes a way forward to achieve Education For All (EFA) in war-affected areas through a continuum strategy of more effective education. Sections of interest include pp. 34-50, which contains 16 handouts for teachers and community workers on “Basic Concepts in Psychosocial Work with Children Affected by Armed Conflict” and pp. 25-33 which contains a guide for focus groups on “Learning about community concepts of child development and well being.”


TOOL: Evaluating the Psycho-Social Environment of Your School, FRESH Tools for Effective School Health, UNESCO, 2004.
This tool contains a Psychosocial Environment Profile questionnaire, developed by the World Health Organization, to evaluate the extent to which a school’s environment contributes to the social and emotional well-being of its students and staff. It includes instructions for scoring the questionnaire, and for using the findings to plan and undertake corrective actions.


BRIEF: Safe Spaces, Extracted from Save the Children’s Education in Emergencies Toolkit, 2003

This brief provides a definition of safe spaces and strategies for ensuring a safe school building (community responsibility, classrooms, furniture, drinking water, latrines), safety around the school (routes to and from school, UXOs, sanitation, recreation space) and in the school (food for education, health promotion and care, walls and décor) and in the classroom, in terms of avoiding politicisation of what is taught and in the way a teacher disciplines the students.


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