MHPSS in brief

Q&As about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in crisis situations.

What does MHPSS in crisis situations refer to?

MHPSS stands for mental health and psychosocial support. It is much broader than treatment for people with severe mental illness. Aid workers who are not specialised in mental healthcare can also make a contribution to the mental wellbeing of people in crisis situations. 

What is the Netherlands doing to improve MHPSS in crisis situations?

The Netherlands held an MHPSS conference in Amsterdam on 7 and 8 October 2019, which put MHPSS in crisis situations on the international political agenda. The Netherlands believes MHPSS should be an integral part of all humanitarian organisations’ efforts, and advocates this at international gatherings and in its contacts with partners and other donors.

The Netherlands reliably provides multiannual, largely unearmarked funding to UN organisations, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and international NGOs, which they can use for their emergency assistance programmes. The Netherlands urges them to include MHPSS in these programmes.

The Netherlands also supports two programmes that facilitate the integration of MHPSS into emergency assistance and peacebuilding efforts:

  • In the 2019-2022 period the Netherlands provided € 5.8 million to the MHPSS Minimum Service Package, developed by several UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. The package is a set of core activities for MHPSS, which is now being tested in five countries. All the selected interventions are demonstrably effective. In the future, humanitarian programmers will be able to use this tool in all new emergencies. The package also includes a system for budgeting the costs of the activities included. Go to the Minimum Service Package website for an orientation video with information about how it works.
  • The Netherlands took the initiative to set up a flexible pool of MHPSS experts who can be rapidly deployed in crisis situations. They support interagency coordination on MHPSS and provide technical advice to local and international aid workers. The Dutch contribution for 2020-2022 was € 3 million. Read more about this programme in the Dutch Development Results for 2020.

Why should MHPSS be an integral part of emergency assistance?

Emergency aid that includes mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is more effective. Find out more about MHPSS in crisis situations.

Why should MHPSS be an integral part of peacebuilding?

Armed conflict, war and violence increase people’s risk of mental illness. These crises also erode trust between people and communities and trust in leaders. MHPSS not only improves the wellbeing of individuals, but also contributes to reconciliation and resilience at community level. Because of this combined effect, MHPSS can play an important role in creating peace. Find out more about MHPSS in peacebuilding

How does MHPSS empower people in crisis situations?

Access to mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) can help people in crisis situations cope better with the difficulties facing them. MHPSS can also help people and communities look to a future beyond the immediate crisis. This can help them recover faster and thus ultimately increases the effectiveness of investments in reconstruction.

Good mental health and psychosocial wellbeing also helps achieve other development cooperation objectives. MHPSS can improve the effectiveness of investments in education, healthcare, social protection and economic development. This benefits individuals as well as broader communities.

Find out more about MHPSS in crisis situations.