Background to the MHPSS conference

More people than ever before have lost their homes and sense of security because of conflict, violence, poverty, natural disasters and oppression. Many of them do not know whether, or for how long, they’ll still have a roof over their heads. They may have lost family, friends or loved ones, or not know where they are. The psychological impact of this is often hidden. While wars or disasters may end, traumas remain.

Young family in a refugee camp in Bulgaria, waiting for a visa application.

Psychological impact

At least 1 in 5 people who experience conflict or disaster develop a psychological condition. This may prevent them from caring for themselves or for family members. Tensions and mental health issues damage the social network people need in order to face problems together, rebuild communities and give life new purpose.

Urgency of MHPSS

Mental wellbeing is crucial for reconstructing affected areas, fighting poverty and reducing gender-based violence. Moreover, providing mental and psychosocial support makes emergency aid more effective.

Humanitarian organisations are already doing everything they can. But it’s not enough. Worldwide, there is a major shortage of healthcare providers and specialists. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, wants to change this. She believes that mental health and psychosocial support should be recognised as a basic need. It is just as important as food, water and shelter and should be a standard part of humanitarian response in crisis situations.

MHPSS conference

To promote the rapid adoption of this approach, Ms Kaag is organising an international conference on 7 and 8 October 2019 in Amsterdam. This international conference will bring together experts, academics, policymakers, ministers and those with lived experience from all over the world to underline that, after all, psychosocial support is not a luxury, but a necessity.

This conference is one in a series of international conferences on mental health support launched in 2018 on the United Kingdom’s initiative.

Conference aims

The International Conference on MHPSS in Crisis Situations aims to:

  • mobilise commitment from countries and organisations to scaling up sustainable and high quality MHPSS during and after disasters and conflicts;
  • increase the level of commitment by countries and donors to long-term financial support for MHPSS in crises, and identify financing mechanisms;
  • present proven, scalable, evidence-based approaches and interventions, and ways to integrate them into humanitarian aid programmes.

Nurses attend a training program on child and adolescent mental health in Liberia.

Read more on the conference