Minister Kaag opens MHPSS conference
On Monday, 7 October, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, opened the International Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Crisis Situations in Amsterdam.
This two-day conference at KIT Royal Tropical Institute is one in a series of international conferences on MHPSS launched in 2018 on the United Kingdom’s initiative. After a handover by Professor Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for Mental Health in England, Minister Kaag addressed the attendees in a full Queen Máxima Hall – experts, academics, policymakers, ministers and those with lived experience from all over the world.
The specific topic of the Amsterdam conference is MHPSS as part of humanitarian response to conflict and disaster. This topic is close to Kaag’s heart: ‘This is why I have decided that if my ministerial role is to be worth something, this theme is what I will have to deliver on.’
Acknowledge the soul
Kaag is hosting the conference in order to mobilise commitment from countries and organisations to scaling up sustainable and high-quality MHPSS during and after crisis situations. In her opening speech, she referred to a 1917 poem by war poet Wilfred Owen, stating: ‘No longer will we focus our efforts exclusively on rebuilding bombed-out bridges and providing first aid. We need to acknowledge the soul; that which makes us human.’
The live stream of the opening session is available for playback.