Voices from the field

Sir Mark Lowcock: ‘Too often we overlook our state of mind’

One of the honoured guests at the international MHPSS conference on 7-8 October in Amsterdam was Sir Mark Lowcock, the world’s chief humanitarian advocate.

Sir Mark Lowcock is United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). He is also the global Emergency Relief Coordinator. His leadership of a large and complex public organization has provided critical experience for his work as the world’s chief humanitarian advocate.

Sir Mark Lowcock listens to Ms. Nyadual Puot (64 years), who arrived in the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in 2017. She had originally fled to Kenya as a refugee, but returned to South Sudan with her children and grandchildren after her husband died and is now sheltering in the PoC site.

In his address to the conference attendees, Mr. Lowcock set out from the personal stories of people he meets everywhere he goes. He stressed the enormous importance of, and need for, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in emergency situations all over the world. ‘Too often we overlook one of the most important aspects of what helps us as humans to survive. And that is our state of mind. […] [A]ll of us in our organizations must ensure that we do not ignore this silent crisis, because we know it can have devastating impacts […] for entire communities and countries for generations.’

Read Mr Lowcock’s address, and watch him being interviewed during the conference.

Sir Mark Lowcock MHPSS conference