The experience of an emergency can significantly impact the mental health and psychosocial well-being of a person. It can have immediate as well as long-term consequences for individuals, families and communities. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Emergency Settings (IASC, 2007) were developed through an inclusive process, with input from UN agencies, NGOs and Universities. The Guidelines help to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect, support and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in the midst of an emergency.
The IASC MHPSS Reference Group was established in December 2007. Its main task is to support and advocate for the implementation of the Guidelines. The Reference Group consists of more than 30 members, and fosters a unique collaboration between NGOs, UN and International Agencies and academics, promoting best practices in MHPSS.
» The aims of the Reference Group are:
- To facilitate integration of the core principles of the Guidelines into all sectors of emergency response;
- To foster collaboration amongst agencies and diverse stakeholders (such as governments and communities) for MHPSS in emergencies;
- To support interagency coordination and activities for MHPSS at global, regional and national levels;
- To develop relevant tools linked to the Guidelines and share these with relevant actors in the field;
- To encourage individual agencies to institutionalise the Guidelines;
- To promote and support ongoing capacity development to enable effective use of the Guidelines and related tools;
- To share experiences of Guidelines implementation among MHPSS actors;
- To interface with the UN Cluster System to include MHPSS in policies, tools, capacity building and planning processes;
- To facilitate language translations, printing and dissemination and of the Guidelines.
» IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings:
The IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (English) have been disseminated widely and translated into several languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Nepali, Spanish, Tajik, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Korean and Russian. Responding to needs indicated by humanitarian actors, the Reference Group has published tools related to the Guidelines almost every year since 2007.
» Related IASC materials and tools:
- IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: Checklist for Field Use (2008)
- IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: What should Protection Programme Managers Know? (2010)
- IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: What should Humanitarian Health Actors Know? (2010)
- IASC: Who is Where, When, doing What in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (2012)
- IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: What should Camp Coordinators and camp Management Actors Know? (2013)
- IASC Reference Group Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Asessment Guide (2013)
- Review of the Implementation of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. How are we doing? (2014)
In 2017 the group published A Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for MHPSS in Emergency Settings.
For other 2017 initiatives please refer to the IASC RG MHPSS 2017-work plan. The Reference Group shares work in progress and resources also via mhpss.net
For further information on the Reference Group or on the IASC Guidelines, please kindly contact one of the Co-Chairs (see contact details on this page)
IASC Guidance on Operational considerations for Multisectoral Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programmes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health
My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on COVID-19
Monitoring and Evaluation for MHPSS Programmes and Referral Guidance Note and Form - now available in French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish