International Medical Corps is one of the few global emergency response organizations with the capacity to address both the immediate psychosocial needs of communities struck by disaster and assist those with preexisting mental disorders.
A chronic shortage of qualified, specialized mental health workers in many countries is compounded in humanitarian crises when the availability of health staff is often limited and health facilities may be damaged or access to them otherwise compromised. Improving access to sustainable and quality mental health care requires training, outreach efforts, and effective communication and consultation between all those involved. This approach includes working with first responders, community health workers, primary health care staff, mental health specialists, and government stakeholders.
International Medical Corps has extensive experience in training and building capacity of professionals, including general health care workers, social workers and psychologists, in order to provide more specialized services at the community level. We support mental health services at all levels of care. Raising awareness of the principles of Psychological First Aid (PFA) among staff and volunteers responding to crisis is an integral part of our emergency response. Integrating mental health into primary health care (PHC) to expand access to quality mental health care services in humanitarian settings is another cornerstone of International Medical Corps programming. For the longer term, we support the development of national mental health care policies and work to boost capacity of local organizations to provide mental health and psychosocial support services.
Those experiencing mental health issues often have complex needs that require the attention of specialists from more than one discipline. To address such challenges, International Medical Corps has developed a Mental Health Case Management approach that meets multiple needs, like health and safety, while working with individuals on goal-setting and connecting them with available resources to support them move toward better functioning.
Recognizing and treating psychosocial issues at the community level strengthens a community’s ability to support those with pre-existing mental disorders, particularly in the context of an emergency situation. International Medical Corps’ interventions focus on providing individual, supportive counseling by case managers, and promoting community awareness by teaching community residents about common mental health problems, how to reduce stigma, and support those impacted by mental health issues.
Highlights & Resources
• International Medical Corps Literature Review on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Guinea-Conakry
This literature review (available in English and French) outlines the key findings of the existing academic and grey literature related to Guinean mental health and psychosocial issues and services, with a specific emphasis on the recent Ebola crisis. It summarizes information on mental health and psychosocial issues including prevalence, help-seeking strategies, as well as formal and informal services and sources of support.
• Psychological First Aid on the Move: What you need to know
This piece outlines the basic steps of PFA and its value across humanitarian contexts based on Claire Whittney’s (Middle East MHPSS Advisor) work with International Medical Corps in Greece.
• Assessment reports from recent programs:
Serbia Rapid MHPSS Situational Needs >
Nepal Assessment Study Summary >
Greece Rapid Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Assessment >
• Mental Health Support for Refugees
International Medical Corps has launched educational booklets about common mental health issues as part of its wider effort to promote mental health care among Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon.
We provide culturally appropriate mental health and psychosocial support to individuals, families and communities.
Our Community of Practice Calls with technical staff in our country teams prioritizes sharing experiences and lessons learned across programs.