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New Group Open : Sri Lanka 2016 Floods
SLfloodpic
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
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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.

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

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
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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

5.1. The Group Creator and Group Host

The Group Creator is the group member who sets up the group. The Group Host is the group member who takes responsibility for managing the group. The Group Host’s responsibilities include managing the group membership and resources, managing the group permissions and promoting interaction among the members. The Group Creator and Group Host may be the same person or two different people. The Group Host is not to be confused with the Regional Host. The Group Host will be identified as a Group Admin at the top of the group page.

Emergenciescrisis briefs  Home  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Networ_2014-05-26_14-08-36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will need to log in to the site to join, create or comment in groups. If you have recently joined the site, your account has to be fully activated before you can carry on some of these activities. Full activation of your account may take up to 48 hours.

5.2. Creating Groups

Step 1: Go to the ‘Groups’ page via the main navigation bar.

Emergenciescrisis briefs  Home  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Networ_2014-05-26_14-31-25

 

 

Chathuri Jayasooriyya  Private Messages  Mental Health and Psychosocial Suppor_2014-05-26_14-33-15

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Click on the ‘Create Group’ tab.

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Step 3: You will be required to fill in the group details. Provide the group name and a description and click on ‘create group and continue’.

Create a Group  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google Chrome_2014-05-28_10-40-36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: You will be required to fill in the relevant details for each of the following areas (see screenshot above):

  • Group Hierarchy
  • Settings
  • Resources
  • Widgets
  • Forum
  • Avatar
  • Group Chat
  • Send Invites

Follow the instructions given in each step, clicking on ‘Next Step’ as you go.

Step 5: Group Hierarchy – Choose from the list of parent groups provided, and indicate who is allowed to create member groups.

Create a Group  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google Chrome_2014-05-28_10-56-43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are 15 parent groups that have been created for the site. These cannot be changed. Please locate your group within the most relevant parent group or a sub group.

Note: Only site administrators can make changes in the group hierarchy, so please contact the Network Host if you need amendments to be made once a group has been set up.

Step 6: Settings - Select the type of group you want to create, i.e. Public, Private, Hidden, under ‘Privacy Options’, as the type of group is determined by the group’s permissions.

Create a Group  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google Chrome_2014-05-28_11-01-58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important to be very sure about the type of group, as the permissions of all the activities and contents of the group will be determined by the group permissions. The type of group (i.e. group permissions) can be changed later if you wish to (please see Help Section 8 on Editing Permissions).

Select the default mode for how you would like group members to be informed of updates to the group and its contents. They can change this setting to suit their individual preferences.

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Step 7: Select your preferences for Resource Settings. This is especially important if you have a hidden or private group, and you do not wish to allow members to share resources across to other groups.

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Step 8: As a group host, you can decide on the widgets you would like to have down the right hand column of your group. The options are ‘Text Widget’, ‘RSS Feeds’ and ‘Relevant Resources’. Please select all or any of the widgets you feel are appropriate from the list provided and provide the relevant information.

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Step 9: You can decide to have a forum in the group by selecting the check box provided.

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Step 10: Avatar - Upload a group image or avatar to give your group a unique identity for the group and enable other members to identify your group easily.

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Step 11: Check the box if you would like the group to have the ‘group chat’ option.

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Step 12: Any member of a group (except a hidden group) can share the group via facebook and twitter by clicking on the ‘share’ tab located next to the group image.

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Please note: If the group you want to share is private, people need to apply for membership.

5.3. Joining Groups

Public Groups

You can join any public group that you like.

Step 1: Either go to the Group Directory by clicking on the Group tab on the main navigation bar, and simply click on ‘Join Group’ tab located below the group description.

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You can also join by going to the group and clicking on the ‘Join group’ tab below the group image.

Refugee integration and settlement processes  Home  Mental Health and Psychoso_2014-05-28_13-49-25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Or join by accepting an invite to join a public group sent to you by another member (please see section below on accepting group invitations).

Private Groups

You can join a private group by requesting membership.

Step 1: Go to the Group Directory by clicking on the Group tab on the main navigation bar, and click on ‘Request Membership’ tab next to the private group. The Group Host will be notified of your request. He/she will decide whether to accept or decline your request for membership. If accepted you will automatically become a member of the group. If declined, you will receive a message informing you of the decision.

User Groups Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google _2014-05-28_14-02-11

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: OR you can join by accepting an invite to join a private group sent to you by another member (please see section below on accepting group invitations).

Hidden Groups

These groups are not displayed in the Group Directory and therefore you will not be able to see them. You will need to receive an invitation from the Group Host to join a Hidden Group. (Please see section below on accepting group invitations).

Accepting Group Invitations

Step 1: You may receive a group invite

  • Either via an email notification if you have selected this option under My Account> Settings> Email Notifications> Groups
  • Or in the ‘Notifications’ tab that you can see on the top left corner of any page near ‘My Account’ tab.

 

[Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network] You have an invitation to the g_2014-05-28_19-58-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Step 2: If you would like to accept the invitation, click on the ‘Accept’ button and if not, click on the ‘Reject’ button.

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5.4. Leaving Groups

If you wish to leave a group, whether Public, Private or Hidden, click on the ‘Leave Group’ tab next to the group name, in the Group Directory page, or the ‘Leave Group‘ button on the group’s home page, next to the group image.

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Africa  Home  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google Chrome_2014-05-28_22-30-48

 

5.5. Searching for Groups

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

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User Groups Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google _2014-05-28_13-47-05

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Use the ‘search groups’ box – type the name of the group you are looking for or use key words (e.g. children, policy, mhpss) if you are looking for groups related to a particular interest area, and click the ‘search’ tab.

User Groups Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google _2014-05-29_00-43-25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: OR if you are on another page, type the group name or any other key word into the google search box. Using the google search box on the site will result in a search of the entire site and therefore the results will include more than the groups. You can select which areas of the site to look in by clicking on the cog located next to the search box.

Google search

5.6. Viewing Groups

Step 1: Go to the Groups page through the main navigation bar, which will take you to the Group Directory. Here you will see a list of all the core groups of the site on the left hand column.  Click on a core group to see its features and sub-groups.

User Groups Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google _2014-05-29_00-57-06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Groups will not be visible in the Group Directory. They can be seen only by the group members and will come up in the Group Directory if you are a member of the particular Hidden Group.

Step 2: Click on the title of the group and you will be taken to the Group’s home page, where you will see various features which are described in the next section.

Step 3: You can see either a list of all the groups or you can choose to see only the groups in which you are a member, by clicking the ‘My Group’ tab in your account.

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Step 4: Use ‘Order By’ in the dropdown menu to sort groups which were last active, those who have the most number of members (if you are looking for the most popular groups!), those that have been created recently or in alphabetical order.

User Groups Directory  Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network - Google _2014-05-29_01-50-08