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New Group Open : Sri Lanka 2016 Floods
Sri Lanka 2016 Floods


Heavy rainfall is triggering floods and landslides and currently affecting over 400,000 people in Sri Lanka. A new group “Sri Lanka 2016 Floods” has been opened up on mhpss.net in order to share resources dealing with this crisis.

Please click here to join.

Three Key Actions for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in the Aftermath of May 2016 Floods, Sri Lanka
3 Key Actions Pic
Three Key Actions for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in the Aftermath of May 2016 Floods, Sri Lanka

- by Ananda Galapatti

 This short document is a quick update to brief notes that I developed with Dr. T. Gadambanathan (Consultant Psychiatrist, Batticaloa Teaching Hospital) a few years ago in response to queries we received on how to respond to the mental health and psychosocial impacts on affected people when serious flooding in 2011 inundated large portions of the Batticaloa district.

As I write on the evening of May 18th, it is already clear that thousands of families have been badly affected by the past few days of flooding, and that many people are still left stranded in areas inundated by water. It also seems that the death toll is likely to rise above 100, as rescuers continue to search for people missing in areas affected by landslides. It is not yet clear what the severity or extent of psychological and social impacts of this current flood disaster will be, or how these will be distributed amongst the affected population. However, this does not mean that we cannot not begin to provide appropriate support.

Even whilst the urgent rescues continue and affected people are being provided with initial temporary shelter and relief, there are simple but important things that we can do to reduce distress and try to protect vulnerable people from longer-term negative psychological and mental health consequences. Later, when individuals and families return to their communities and homes from temporary shelters, and the relief effort transitions towards meeting the needs of restoring homes, resuscitating livelihoods and repairing infrastructure, there will be other ways in which we can promote recovery and wellbeing and also ensure that people in need of specialised services are able to access these.

The options for support outlined below are derived from the IASC Guidelines on MHPSS in Emergencies, which is the global standard for organising MHPSS responses to large scale crises. Drawing on these guidelines as well as experience in similar disasters in Sri Lanka, I would like to suggest an approach to assisting positive coping and recovery that is built around three key actions:

1. Providing practical, humane support during rescue and relief activities based on the principles of Psychological First Aid.

When people are in the midst of the chaos and danger of a disaster, as well as for hours, days, or even weeks afterwards, they may be distressed and in need of support. The approach of Psychological First Aid is designed to meet this need through practical, humane, adaptable actions that any non-specialist person can do to support people who are distressed or vulnerable after a crisis, to promote 1) a sense of safety, 2) calming, 3) a sense of self- and community efficacy, 4) connectedness, and 5) hope. Provision of PFA does not depend on the arrival of counsellors or other mental health professionals, but can be provided by neighbours, relief workers or any other person who is at a crisis site. It is now a key recommended first line response in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, and the 2011 WHO manual on PFA has already been adapted and translated into Sinhala(2013) and Tamil (2013).

a) Provide rapid orientation (2–4 hours) on PFA for first responders, especially those associated with the Disaster Management Centres at district-level (including volunteers, community health staff, police and armed forces personnel mobilized for the disaster). There are a number of PFA trainers in Sri Lanka and there is also a useful guide to facilitating PFA training.

b) Promote public messages based on PFA principles via radio, television and internet so that members of affected communities, as well as other lay persons responding to the crisis, so that they will be able to drawn on these when they are providing assistance to friends, family, neighbours and others.

Courtesy: WHO (2011) Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers

2. Ensuring that mainstream relief and recovery programmes integrate special considerations into design and implementation so that these can promote and protect mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, whilst serving other needs.

The way that support is provided to meet the material and practical needs of individuals, families and communities affected by the floods can have positive or negative implications for their levels of distress and difficulty — both at individual and group levels. Eruptions of commotion or even anger around relief distribution often illustrates dramatically some of these impacts. Sensitive approaches can go a long way to addressing material needs that are causing worry to affected people, as well as avoid creating new problems.

a) Ensure access to and clarity of information about relief, possible compensation, available services and recovery processes. Ensure predictability, reliability and transparency in relation to these, as this will allow people to develop a feeling that they know what is going on — reducing distress, and allowing them to gain confidence in their own ability to understand and manage the situation.

b) Do No Harm — prevent relief and other forms of assistance from causing conflict, competition or disruption within affected communities; avoid creating unrealistic expectations; prevent creating long term dependencies.

c) Involve affected communities in prioritisation, planning and implementation of recovery programmes. Ensure that relief provision is based on up-to-date needs assessment, and responds to community or family priorities. Actively coordinate with others providing assistance to the same community. Reinforce the sense of control and competence of people in the community and within families, rather than helplessness.

d) In time, support the resumption of normal community structures and activities (ie. schools, religious practices, village committees, etc), and ensure minimal disruption of these by external programmes.

3. Linking people in need of more specialized or specific assistance with existing MHPSS services in their own district.

Whilst most people will not require specialised or targeted MHPSS interventions, there may be a few whose pre-existing vulnerabilities may have been worsened by what has happened to them during and after the flood. Being sensitive to the existence of people who may be in need of special assistance, and connecting them to existing services is a valuable action that can be taken by non-MHPSS service providers and volunteers. There may be some people who are so distressed or unwell that they are unable to take care of themselves or are a risk to themselves or others — in such cases, it is necessary to help them to access professional help.

a) Pay attention to pre-flood vulnerabilities (serious mental illness, disability, extreme poverty, complex family or social problems) that may prevent some individuals and families from making a successful recovery without additional assistance after the floods. Identify support needs and create sustainable responses to these problems, many of which may persist in the medium to long term.

b) Identify local resources for mental health and psychosocial support to whom difficult cases or complicated issues may be referred, or from whom assistance may be sought in responding to very vulnerable individuals or groups. There are now many relevant public sector service providers to whom persons in distress or difficulty may be referred. There are Medical Officers for Mental Health (MOMH) attached to MOH area and District level health service who are a good point of contact for support. Similarly, Counselling Officers can be accessed at many Divisional Secretariat and most District Secretariats. There are also a wide range of other personnel at DS Division and District level who have roles relevant to psychosocial support or mental health.

Courtesy TAF (in press): Mapping the Roles of Community-Level Government Service Providers Relevant to Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Services in Sri Lanka

In remote areas where these services do not yet exist or are not of adequate quality, the opportunity should be used to extend available services to meet MHPSS needs for the medium and long-term.

c) Specialised or targeted MHPSS interventions at a community-level should be based on systematic needs assessments, and should seek to integrate with the existing systems for care.

Useful Sources for Further Information:

Ananda Galappatti is a medical anthropologist and MHPSS practitioner. He is the Director of Strategy at The Good Practice Group, a Managing Board Member of MHPSS.net and also a member of the editorial board of the journal Intervention.

MHPSS in Guinea Conakry – A Literature Review
english ebola

MHPSS in Guinea Conakry – A Literature Review

The World Health Organization (WHO) requested a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) literature review of countries impacted by the Ebola virus, including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. International Medical Corps expressed an interest in completing the review for Guinea and commissioned a rigorous review of the literature on pre-existing information relevant to mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in Guinea, in the French and English languages. This report presents the findings using an integrated psychological and anthropological framework that is instrumental in understanding MHPSS needs, and how to devise culturally-appropriate MHPSS interventions in Ebola-affected areas.

The report 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 humanitarian crisis. The review was conducted in June-July 2015 and identified relevant academic publications using academic search engines and databases (Google scholar, Medline, Pubmed, PSYCHinfo, APA psycNET, and Anthrosource). The search was extended through manual searches on Google in French and English, and in the journals: Social Science and Medicine; Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Transcultural Psychiatry; and Medical Anthropology. Researchers with relevant expert knowledge were also consulted. The overall search identified academic sources, but also relevant reports, policy documents and internet resources.

The report introduces general background information regarding the population of Guinea, its religions, history, politics, economics and health. It subsequently summarizes information on mental health and psychosocial issues including prevalence, local nosologies, help-seeking strategies, formal and informal resources of MHPSS sources of support. There is discussion of the ways in which causes and course of illness and misfortune are intertwined with plural cosmologies and with individuals’ relationships with the living, the dead, the spirit world, and nature itself. Finally, the humanitarian crisis of Ebola in Guinea is explored, alongside responses to it, and its social and psychological ramifications for the affected population.

The scholarly and grey literature available on MHPSS specifically in Guinea was limited and thinly spread over many documents. This presented a challenge when writing this report and we acknowledge that there may have been further relevant material to be found in sources that did not focus specifically on MHPSS, but which it was not possible to obtain within the time-scale of the review. Nonetheless, we hope the report can provide useful insights for policy-makers, donors, governments and service-providers.

To access review please visit http://mhpss.net/?get=268/Guinea-MHPSS-Literature-Review-2015-English1.pdf or download Guinea MHPSS Literature Review 2015 English here.


Guidance to provide MHPSS care for pregnant women and for families with microcephaly in the context of Zika virus
Psychosocial support for pregnant women and for families with microcephaly and other neurological complications in the context of Zika virus
Interim guidance for health-care providers


On 1 February 2016 WHO announced that a cluster of microcephaly and other neurologic disorders reported in Brazil is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Several countries have reported an increase in the incidence of cases of microcephaly and/or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) (2) concurrent with Zika virus outbreak. A causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not scientifically proven.

This document describes guidance for a supportive response by healthcare providers (e.g. physicians, nurses), focusing primarily on women affected by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and their families, for their mental health and psychosocial needs.

Translations of this document in Spanish and Portuguese will also soon be available on mhpss.net. To access these and other resources related to  this crisis please go to  Zika – Microcephaly, Emergency Response, 2016.



Mental Health for Sustainable Development: The Role of International Non-Governmental Organisations

Mental Health for Sustainable Development: The Role of International Non-Governmental Organisations

22-23 February 2016, London UK

Representatives of international non-governmental organisations (iNGOs), funders and development partners, and policy-makers are invited to a Parliamentary meeting on 22 February 2016, 4-6pm, to discuss the role of iNGOs in addressing mental health as a key component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Experts from iNGOs delivering mental health services in low- and middle-income countries will share lessons from the field and propose a call to action for the iNGO community in advance of the World Bank-World Health Organisation meeting on mental health planned for April 2016.
The Parliamentary meeting will be followed by a technical workshop on 23 February at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to formalise this call to action and determine next steps.
These events are organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health in collaboration with the Mental Health Innovation Network. Registration opens January 2016. Please refer to the attached Save the date and circulate to your networks.
JOIN GROUP: Europe-Mediterranean 2015 Migration Response. Click here to join

Europe-Mediterranean 2015 Migration Response – Join Group on mhpss.net

This group is designated to provide a forum for discussion, sharing knowledge and practices on the ongoing Europe-Mediterranean 2015 Migration Response. This can include sharing practices, case studies, guidelines, research results or work in progress which can support practitioners, researchers, policy makers or programmers supporting settlement of refugees in Europe.

Click this link to join the group on the Europe-Mediterranean 2015 Migration Response

9. Settings

General Settings

Step 1: Go to My Account> Settings> General.
Step 2: You can change the email account attached to your site account (this is where all the email notifications will be received), and reset your password.

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Notification Settings

Step 1: Got to My Account> Settings> Email. Here you have a number of options to which you can choose to receive email notifications.
Step 2: Once you select the options, remember to save the changes.

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Step 1: Got to My Account> Settings> Chat. Here you can select the public chat status (i.e. how others will see your availability online), as well as how your name appears on the chat.
Step 2: Once you select the options, remember to save the changes.

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Removing Account

If you would like to remove your account, please contact your Regional Host. Contact details can be found in the Contact Us section.

8. Editing Permissions

Permissions refer to the privacy settings that allow another person to access site content, i.e. profile information, groups, resources and activity feeds. Permissions can be customized according to needs.


Go to My Account> Profile> Edit Profile. Under ‘Basic’ and ‘Extended Profile’ select who can see your profile details, from the drop down menu next to each section. Please note that if you select ‘Everyone’, information will be accessible to all Network members and non-Network members.

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Only the Group Hosts can change the permissions of the group.

Go to your group and click on Admin> Group Settings.  Adjust the privacy settings as needed.

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Permissions in relation to resources are governed by the permissions of the groups to which they are uploaded. Therefore, content of Private and Hidden Groups are accessible only to their members.

You cannot have privacy settings for individual resources.

Activity Feeds

These too are governed by the permissions of the group in which these activities take place. Therefore, activities of Private and Hidden Groups are accessible only to their members.

*Remember to save changes once changes to permission/privacy settings are made, in order for them to be effective.

7.1. News & Vacancies

‘News’ is a section in the site that includes information about upcoming trainings, events and calls for proposals. If you want to make an announcement, please send the details to the Network Host at [email protected] .

News is accessible by all visitors to the site, including non-members.

Viewing News

News can be viewed by both members and non-members.

Step 1: Go to ‘News’ tab on the main navigation bar and select ‘Trainings’, ‘Events’ or ‘Calls’ from the drop down menu. Those which are out of date can be found in Archives for your reference.

Step 2: The latest News appears first. You can go to older posts too by navigating across pages.

Commenting on News

Both members and non-members can access News and comment on them. (Non members have to provide their name and email address if they wish to comment). The Network Host, who posts all the News items, receives updates on comments.

Step 1: To comment on a News item, click on the link indicating the number of comments that have been made on it, as shown here (if no comment has been made on it yet, it will say ‘no comments’).

Step 2: At the bottom of the comments page, there’s a section called ‘Leave a Reply’ with a text box for comments. Type your comment and submit.

Flagging – if you want to report a News item as inappropriate, click on ‘flag this post as inappropriate’.

Sharing – Click on the news item or on ‘comment’ to share via FB and Twitter.
Please Note: This is not available in the listing of all News items.

Searching for Vacancies

This section provides information on all current vacancies in the MHPSS field, which has been submitted to the site for inclusion. They are listed by the most recently uploaded ones first.

You can use the categories provided to search and filter through the vacancies listed. This could be by job category or its locations. You can also check the checkboxes provided to indicate whether you want freelance, full-time, internships, part-time or temporary vacancies only to be listed.

Adding Vacancies

You can add current vacancies to the site by choosing ‘Add Vacancy’ from the dropdown menu on the tab ‘Vacancies’ in the main navigation bar.

Fill out the required information in the form provided. Preview the listing by clicking the button below and submit as requested.



7.1. Status Updates

Status updates are brief updates given by members. These can be anything related to MHPSS, e.g. the work they are involved in, questions they would like answers to, a link, a notice/message or any other piece of information. Status updates can be made on the Profile page, Group home pages or the main Activity page and can include photos, web links and videos.

Profile Page

Step 1: Go to My Account> Profile> Activity.

Gayathri Jayasooriya  Activity Streams  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support_2014-05-29_19-38-41





Step 2: Type your update on the text box below ‘what’s new?’ and click on ‘Post Update’.

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Group Home Page

Step 1: Go to the Home Page of the group where you want to post the update.

Step 2: Type your update on the text box below ‘what’s new in <group name>?’ and click on ‘Post Update’.

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Activity Page

Step 1: Go to the Activity page through the main navigation bar.

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Step 2: Type your update in the text box below ‘what’s new?’.

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Step 3: Then select where you want to post the update from the options available in the ‘post in’ drop down menu and click on ‘Post Update’.

Activity Streams Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Go_2014-05-29_20-04-06