Mental Health in Complex Emergencies Online Humanitarian Training Course

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The Mental Health in Complex Emergencies course is designed for professionals in mental health and social work, staff in humanitarian health and protection programs and volunteers who wish to learn about establishing programs for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies such as conflict, post conflict, and disaster settings, and with refugees or internally displaced populations.

This course will provide practical orientation and training on a range of topics such as conducting rapid assessments, designing and setting up MHPSS programs, coordinating them and the basics of monitoring and evaluation. Significant attention will be dedicated to therapeutic approaches to mental health conditions in adults and children in humanitarian contexts. Other topics include the issues of cultural validity and cultural change, conflict resolution and negotiation. Potential field workers will be introduced to essentials such as personal security, logistics, taking care of oneself and how to cope with the stresses of humanitarian work, and other practical aspects of humanitarian work in the field.

The course will also explore the evolving nature of humanitarian emergencies and the challenges they raise, including the growing numbers of forcibly displaced people, the problems created by (chronic) conflict, and emerging threats posed by pandemics, and the climate and ecological emergencies.

An important feature of the course is that it provides a space for learning from seasoned lecturers/practitioners and from other students, many of whom bring unique experiences and insights from all corners of the world.

After the course, students will have an increased understanding of mental health and psychosocial needs and interventions in complex emergencies. They will also have an overview of important guidance documents, key issues, and debates within the field. They will have been introduced to the key capacities required for establishing MHPSS activities in the field and had a chance to critically reflect on their own role as a humanitarian actor.

The expected time investment for this course is 5 hours per week.

Sample course topics outline:

Week 1: The humanitarian context

Week 2: Mental health and psychosocial support: consensus and pragmatism

Week 3: Setting up mental health and psychosocial programs in Emergencies

Week 4: Community-Based MHPSS programming and SGBV

Week 5: Child-focused MHPSS programming

Week 6: Clinical issues 1: Grief and loss

Week 7: Clinical issues 2: Normal and abnormal stress reactions

Week 8: Basic psychosocial skills/ stress management/ psychological first aid

Week 9: Clinical issues 3: Severe mental disorders and epilepsy

Week 10: Clinical issues 4: Common mental disorders and substance abuse

Week 11: Security and risk assessment & Taking care of ourselves

Week 12: Assessment, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning

Week 13: Context & cultural issues

Week 14: Human rights and conflict: Disability inclusion in humanitarian action and MHPSS

Week 15: Wrap up and discussion of outstanding topics


Marcio Gagliato, PhD.
Humanitarian Response, Mental Health, Protection & Psychosocial Support Specialist. Director (Operations), Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network –

Larry Hollingworth CBE
Humanitarian Programs Director, Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) Visiting Professor, Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), Fordham University

Lynne Jones OBE, FRCPsych. PhD.
Visiting scientist, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Harvard University School of Public Health, Honorary Consultant at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Cornwall Partnership NHS

Foundation Trust

Willem van de Put
Co-founder of MHCE, founder and director of Culture for Change (C4C) Research fellow at Fordham University
Scientific expert at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp

Peter Ventevogel, MD, PhD.
Senior Mental Health Officer, Division of Resilience & Solutions, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Claire Whitney, MIA, LICSW
Senior Global Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Advisor Technical Unit, International Medical Corps

This course is organized by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs of Fordham University, in collaboration with the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Culture4Change, and the International Medical Corps.

Fee information

Course Cost: $915

Upon fulfilling the course requirements described in the syllabus, students will receive a Certificate of Completion from Fordham University.

**Please note that capacity on this course is restricted and due to the course's popularity, all applications are subject to review. If we are able to offer you a seat on the course, you will be notified via email with the instructions to accept your admission and to process the payment. Applications will be reviewed on a first come first served basis and when we have filled the allotted number of seats, the course will be closed.*

How to register

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