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Transitioning Mental Health & Psychosocial Support: From Short-Term Emergency to Sustainable Post-Disaster Development. Humanitarian Action Summit 2011

  • P.P. Patel (a1), J. Russell (a2), K. Allden (a3), T.S. Betancourt (a4), P. Bolton (a5), A. Galappatti (a6), Z. Hijazi (a7), K. Johnson (a8), L. Jones (a9), L. Kadis (a10), K. Leary (a11), I. Weissbecker (a12) and J. Nakku (a13)...

Introduction: The Working Group (WG) on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support participated in its second Humanitarian Action Summit in 2011. This year, the WG chose to focus on a new goal: reviewing practice related to transitioning mental health and psychosocial support programs from the emergency phase to long-term development. The Working Group's findings draw on a review of relevant literature as well as case examples.

Objectives: The objective of the Working Group was to identify factors that promote or hinder the long term sustainability of emergency mental health and psychosocial interventions in crisis and conflict, and to provide recommendations for transitioning such programs from relief to development.

Methods: The Working Group (WG) conducted a review of relevant literature and collected case examples based on experiences and observations of working group members in implementing mental and psychosocial programming in the field. The WG focused on reviewing literature on mental health and psychosocial programs and interventions that were established in conflict, disaster, protracted crisis settings, or transition from acute phase to development phase. The WG utilized case examples from programs in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Sierra Leone, Aceh (Indonesia), Sri Lanka, and New Orleans (United States).

Results: The WG identified five key thematic areas that should be addressed in order to successfully transition lasting and effective mental health and psychosocial programs from emergency settings to the development phase. The five areas identified were as follows: Government and Policy, Human Resources and Training, Programming and Services, Research and Monitoring, and Finance.

Conclusions: The group identified several recommendations for each thematic area, which were generated from key lessons learned by working group members through implementing mental health and psychosocial support programs in a variety of settings, some successfully sustained and some that were not.

Corresponding author
Corresponding Author: Kathleen Allden, MD Health Care and Rehabilitation Services 49 School Street Hartford, VT 05049 USA E-mail:
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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