UNICEF, partners recognise the emotional impact of calamities on children
NEW YORK, 1 October, 2010 - In an effort to help communities cope with the emotional and social suffering caused by conflict and natural disasters, UNICEF and partners are today exploring how collaboration on common approaches supports the recovery process for children and communities in emergencies.
“One of UNICEF’s priorities in emergencies is to protect and improve the mental health and psychosocial well-being of communities in crisis," said Amanda Melville, Child Protection, UNICEF. "We know from experience in many emergencies that the very real and profound distress among communities and the scale of such problems can only be effectively addressed by collaboration among all key actors."
Towards a common vision
According to Ms. Melville, the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies (MHPSE) settings provide a framework that facilitates interagency collaboration and brings together actors from different sectors such as health, education and protection around a common visionm.
The result of a worldwide collaborative effort, the IASC (Inter Agency Standing Committee) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings provide a concrete framework for use on the ground, enabling governments and humanitarian workers to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum responses to protect and improve the mental health and psychosocial well-being of affected communities.
“These guidelines have been used in many countries to identify common priorities and gaps, flag harmful practices and identify useful practices and develop common approaches. They have helped us in our mission to better support communities in crisis,” Ms. Melville added.
First launched in 2007, UNICEF and partners are working to put the MHPSE guidelines to practical use on a country by country basis in over 20 countries including Haiti, the Philippines, and the occupied Palestinian Territory. A global campaign is now underway by UNICEF and partners to advocate for the implementation of these guidelines by governments and other policy makers.
Challenges remain to ensure the implementation and sustainability of the guidelines.
“The mental well-being of children should not be taken for granted,” Ms. Melville stressed. “We know that with the right support children are highly resilient, and the implementation of these guidelines make the journey to recovery more holistic and less uncertain.”..............................................................................................
NOTE TO EDITOR:
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)