The Report on the 3rd Regional Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies in Asia. The conference was organized by Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in collaboration with the Center for Crisis Psychology of Norway and Thammasat University's School of Global Studies in Thailand with support from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Addressing or providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) has become a growing priority in responding to emergencies and disasters not only for the Asia-Pacific region but globally. As disasters continue to hit countries, there is a growing need and realization of addressing and improving the neglected cluster of psychological support to populations at risk.
Building capacities of humanitarian actors in managing public health during emergencies covers a wide spectrum. In 2011, ADPC launched the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies Training Program to strengthen community safety and resilience through the capacity development of health personnel at various levels. Funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the objective of the training is to better manage psychosocial impacts of emergencies and disasters to increase the survival rate of disaster victims. ADPC organized the pilot training with BRAC Bangladesh, with the aim of establishing a system for enhancing the capacity of communities in psychological first aid to be able to manage victims immediately post-disaster; to strengthen the knowledge and skills of health workers in managing vulnerable populations; and to enhance the capacity of mental health professionals to assess, evaluate and manage the need for psychosocial support during a disaster. In 2013, the same program was successfully implemented in Vietnam in collaboration with the Hanoi School of Public Health and the Center for Research, Information & Service in Psychology of the Vietnam National University.
A series of regional conferences focusing on mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies in Asia were organized by ADPC. The first conference in 2010 on Psychosocial Response to Disasters focused on children during disasters, then the conference in 2013 promoted psychological recovery and evolved this year in bridging the gaps in the provision of mental health support across Asia. The conferences aimed at promoting awareness on mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies and increasing the region’s and individual countries’ capacity to respond to the psychological needs of those affected by disasters.
The conference was organized by Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) in coordination with the Center for Crisis Psychology in Norway and Thammasat University’s School of Global Studies in Thailand, and made possible through the financial support of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event was an opportunity for experts on mental health, representatives from UN agencies, government organizations, NGOs and INGOs, media and academic institutions in the region to come together.
Representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Thailand and Vietnam shared lessons learned and recommendations for building resilience through the provision of mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region.
Expected outcomes of the conference:
Present the gaps and challenges experienced by stakeholders dealing with mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies in Asia.
Exchange lessons learned from different countries to foster and build regional resilience.
Raise awareness of the psychosocial impacts of emergencies and disasters to increase the survival rate of disaster victims.
Discuss the formation of a Regional Coordinating Body to take the lead in advancing MHPSS.