WFMH DISASTER RESPONSE INITIATIVE

 

 
   
  2011 IIMHL Disaster Response Report

“Examples of mental health resources
for disaster planning and responsiveness across IIMHL countries”

To view a copy of this document
– go to

http://www.iimhl.com/IIMHLUpdates/2011_IIMHL_Disaster_Response.pdf
 

   
 

World Federation for Mental Health

World Federation for Mental Health


INTERNATIONAL
FORUM ON MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT IN EMERGENCY
SETTINGS

Sponsored and Organized by
the

WORLD FEDERATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH
in collaboration with
THE CENTRE ON INTERNATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH
INSTITUTE OF PSYCHIATRY
KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

AUGUST 28 – 29, 2008
King’s College London
Waterloo Campus
London, England, United Kingdom

FULL
CONFERENCE REPORT


click here
 

 

 
 



WFMH STATEMENT ON THE MENTAL HEALTH

CONSEQUENCES OF WAR AND CIVIL CONFLICT

“The World Federation for
Mental Health (WFMH), while making it absolutely clear that it
does not take sides in armed conflicts, must express its grave
concern at the present escalation of conflict around the world
in which civilians are the principal victims.

This statement is a response to
the horrific circumstances in Gaza, Darfur, Sri Lanka, the Congo
and many other areas where conflict is having serious mental
health consequences both for the participants and those they
involve.

Promoting and protecting the
mental health and the well being of the population must be a
high priority for governments . Paying attention to the mental
and emotional health of a nation’s people must be given added
priority during times of stress and conflict such as the world
is currently experiencing.

Tension, disruption and
uncertainty caused by war and civil strife have major and
lasting consequences in the daily lives and routines of children
and adults in areas of ongoing violence. Anger and worries about
terrorism and military conflicts, the very real fear for safety
and survival of civilians and military personnel – all heighten
stress and anxiety for everyone. For some, they bring strong
feelings of hopelessness and depression, and may result in
post-traumatic stress with constant n
ightmares and
panic. They add further stress for
those already living with a major illness. The overwhelming and
constant connection to military and political conflicts created
by the worldwide media lend a sense of “virtual reality” to
unfolding events that is inescapable.

Of major concern to the World
Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is that the mental health
consequences of the hardship and trauma created by violence and
disruption are generally being ignored, by combatants on both
sides of these conflicts.

The social, emotional, physical
and economic impact of armed conflict add tremendously to the
daily challenges of survival for those caught up in the violence
of war and civil strife. Psychological scars, it must be
remembered, will remain for many years after the physical ones
have healed and will impair the ability of many people to work
and contribute to economic recovery. In general, government
policies and resources allocated to mental ill-health across the
world are grossly inadequate, and these inadequacies become
glaringly obvious during periods of crisis and disaster.

The World Federation for Mental
Health calls urgently

  • On all nations involved in
    conflict, and to those contributing aid to support such
    conflict, to respond specifically to these issues and to
    consider the serious immediate and long term mental health
    consequences of continuing armed conflict;
     
  • On the international
    mental health community including professional associations
    and NGOs concerned with health to intervene with respective
    governments to insist on upholding the Geneva conventions
    concerned with the health consequences of war and to provide
    immediate financial support to the mental health services
    located in conflict areas; and
     
  • On those major
    humanitarian organisations that traditionally have not
    prioritised mental health, to provide the means to support
    established organisations like WFMH to expand training and
    services according to the new Inter-Agency Standing
    Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial
    Support in Emergency Settings. The Guidelines are now
    available, their message is clear, but the resources for
    implementation are still hopelessly lacking.”

Emeritus Professor John R M
Copeland MD ScD
PRESIDENT, WORLD FEDERATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Academic Unit
University of Liverpool Department of Psychiatry,
Section of Old Age Psychiatry,
St Catherine’s Hospital,
Birkenhead, Wirral, CH42 0LQ, UK
TEL + 44 151 604-7333
FAX+ 44 151 653-3441
e-mail: <[email protected]>

09 FEBRUARY 2009


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NEW GUIDELINES TO IMPROVE
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE IN EMERGENCIES RELEASED

Geneva, 14 September 2007
– International humanitarian agencies have agreed on a new set
of guidelines to address the mental health and psychosocial
needs of survivors as part of the response to conflict or
disaster.

The Inter-Agency Standing
Committee (lASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial
Support in Emergency Settings
clearly state that protecting
and promoting mental health and psychosocial well-being is the
responsibility of all humanitarian agencies and workers. Until
now, many people involved in emergency response have viewed
mental health and psychosocial well-being as the sole
responsibility of psychiatrists and psychologists.

“These new IASC guidelines are
a significant step towards providing better care and support to
people in disaster- and conflict-affected areas worldwide,” said
Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General for Health Action in
Crises at the World Health Organization.

Recent conflicts and natural
disasters in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Sudan among
many others involve substantial psychological and social
suffering in the short term, which if not adequately addressed
can lead to long-term mental health and psychosocial problems.
These can threaten peace, people’s human rights and development.

“Yet, when communities and
services provide protection and support, most individuals have
been shown to be remarkably resilient. While this is
increasingly recognised, many actors identified the need for a
coherent, systematic approach that can be applied in large
emergencies. The guidelines address this gap.

The guidelines have been
published by the IASC, a committee that is responsible for
world¬wide humanitarian policy and consists of heads of relevant
UN and other intergovernmental agencies, Red Cross and Red
Crescent agencies, and NGO consortia. The guidelines have been
developed by staff from 27 agencies through a highly
participatory process.

“Drafting the guidelines has
been a joint effort of a broad range of key actors in the
diverse sectors of humanitarian aid and we are happy to see the
synergy and commitment,” said Mr Jim Bishop, Vice President for
Humanitarian Policy and Practice of InterAction, the consortium
of US-based international NGOs.

The guidelines layout the
essential first steps in protecting or promoting people’s mental
health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of emergencies.
They identify useful practices and flag potentially harmful
ones, and clarify how different approaches complement one
another.

“The new guidelines present a
major step forward to much better protect the mental health and
psychosocial well-being of displaced persons using an integrated
approach in collaboration with all partners” said Ms Ruvendrini
Menikdiwela, Deputy Director, Division for International
Protection Services at the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner of Refugees.

The guidelines have a clear
focus on social interventions and supports. They emphasize the
importance of building on local resources such as teachers,
health workers, healers, and women’s groups to promote
psychosocial well-being. They focus on strengthening social
networks and building on existing ways community members deal
with distress in their lives.

The guidelines include
attention to protection and care of people with severe mental
disorders, including severe trauma-induced disorders, as well as
access to psychological first aid for those in acute distress.

The guidelines stress that the
way in which humanitarian aid is provided can have a substantial
impact on people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being.
Treating survivors with dignity and enabling them to participate
in and organize emergency support is essential.

Coordination of mental health
and psychosocial support is difficult in large emergencies
involving numerous agencies. Affected populations can be
overwhelmed by outsiders, and local contributions to mental
health and psychosocial support are easily marginalised or
undermined.

Dr. Bruce Eshaya-Chauvin, Head
of the Health and Care Department at the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, remarked:
“Achieving improved psychosocial support for populations
affected by crises requires coordinated action among all
government and non-government and humanitarian actors. These
guidelines give sensible advice on how to achieve that.”

“These guidelines now need to
be transferred from paper into concrete action at the field
level so that those affected by disasters and conflict will
benefit from the work done on them. NGOs can playa major role in
this regard.” said Ms Mqnisha Thomas, acting Coordinator of the
International Council of Voluntary Agencies.


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USEFUL LINKS

WORLD HEALTH
ORGANIZATION
www.who.int

U. S. FREEDOM CORPS
www.freedomcorps.gov

AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR
POSTTRAUMATIC MENTAL HEALTH

www.ncptsd.unimelb.edu.au

INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE
OF THE RED CROSS
www.icrc.org

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY
FOR TRAUMATIC STRESS STUDIES

www.istss.org

UNICEF HEADQUARTERS
www.unicef.org

LIFELINE INTERNATIONAL
www.lifeline.web.za

MANUAL FROM THE WORLD
HEALTH ORGANIZATION:
MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL CARE FOR CHILDREN AFFECTED BY NATURAL
DISASTERS


Click here to read the manual


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