Your Feedback is Essential
This MHPSS Emergency Toolkit will be continuously reviewed as newer and more up to date resources and tools become available, but equally important is the feedback we receive from field users. Please share your experience in using the toolkit, and let us know what you think. Your considerations for improvement and overall feedback are welcome and can be received by the MHPSS.net Emergency Host, Marcio Gagliato
The aim of the Handbook is to improve the quality of humanitarian response in situations of disaster and conflict, and to enhance the accountability of the humanitarian system to disaster-affected people. It is the product of the collective experience of many people and agencies. Started in the late 1990-s as an initiative of a group of humanitarian NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Sphere standards can now be seen as the minimum standards in humanitarian response. Sphere is available in 29 languages.
Coordinating relief efforts entails minimizing the duplication of humanitarian services, whether by filling gaps or preventing overlap, and ensuring various organizations are synchronized to work together to achieve a common objective, thereby enabling a more coherent, effective, and efficient response (Gillmann 2010: 326; James 2008: 351-2). Particularly to MHPSS Coordination Mechanisms, please refer to IASC MHPSS Guidelines action sheet 1.1 (page 33-37), and the IASC MHPSS Reference Group
This document is endorsed by more than 35 organizations involved in humanitarian assistance. It provides essential guidance for multi-sector responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well- being in the midst of an emergency, offering an overall framework for MHPSS integration, activities and services in humanitarian settings across different sectors such as health, protection and education. The guidelines call for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services and activities to be implemented in a way that is coordinated, evidence-based, participatory, integrated, avoids harm and builds on existing resources and capacities, and to organizing a multi-layered system of complementary supports that meets the needs of different groups. The guidelines are available in: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Nepali, Portuguese, Spanish, Tajik and Korean. A summary version of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings is also available in English and Arabic.
Based on the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC, 2007), this document gives an overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian health actors should have about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies.
Based on the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC, 2007), this document gives an overview of essential knowledge that protection programme managers should know about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies.
Based on the Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC, 2007), this document provides an overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian actors within the CCCM cluster/sector should have about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies.
The Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) is designed to identify strategic humanitarian priorities during the first weeks following an emergency.
MIRA should be carried out under the auspices of the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator (link to: While the primary responsibility for coordinating humanitarian assistance rests with national authorities, if international humanitarian assistance is required a Humanitarian Coordinator-HC or Resident Coordinator-RC is responsible for leading and coordinating the efforts of humanitarian organizations (both UN and non-UN)) and wherever possible, led by the government.
It is not specifically designed for MHPSS, but it does provide important information on the needs perceived by the affected community. It consists of:
The purpose of this document is to provide agencies with a guide with three tools containing key assessment questions that are of common relevance to all actors involved in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) independent of the phase of the emergency. This guide will be useful for rapid assessments of MHPSS issues in humanitarian emergencies across sectors.
This document offers an approach that should help assessors review information that is already available and only collect new data that will be of practical use.
Further Reading and examples of application:
An increase in alcohol and other substance use is amongst the many health and social issues associated with conflict and displacement. Problems with substance use are prevalent in a variety of conflict-affected situations, including camps for refugees and internally displaced people. Psychoactive substances are also often used by combatants.
This guide is written for those who plan to include in their work rapid assessments of alcohol and other substance use among conflict-affected and displaced populations.
This guide provides standards and directions on how to carry out rapid needs assessment for Psychosocial Support (PSS) and Violence Prevention (VP) initiatives including child protection and sexual and gender-based violence. In particular, this rapid assessment tool is designed to help gather data in an efficient and effective way to help inform integration of PSS and VP issues, as minimum standards, into the broader disaster management action plans in response to an emergency
In the initial phase of an emergency many agencies are still assessing, planning and applying for funding. A simple table that provides an overview of Who is Where, When & doing What is often very useful to get an overview of MHPSS response and initiate coordination between implementing agencies.
The IASC Reference group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support 4Ws tool is developed to map MHPSS activities in humanitarian settings across sectors. It is envisioned that this tool will be used by groups with MHPSS coordination responsibilities in emergencies with numerous MHPSS actors. The tool exists of 2 parts:
(a) A manual, which describes how to collect the data.
(b) A 4Ws Data Collection Spreadsheet application (in Excel).
Further Reading and examples of application:
This guide covers psychological first aid which involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events. It is written for people in a position to help others who have experienced an extremely distressing event. It gives a framework for supporting people in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities. Despite its name, psychological first aid covers both social and psychological support.
The manual to facilitate training in psychological first aid with a focus on children. The training programme develops skills for providing physical and emotional comfort by modelling calmness and enables a constructive format through active listening that allows survivors to voice their concerns and needs. It also helps to connect survivors to practical assistance through referral networks and information on positive coping strategies.
Cultural review and adaptation that includes a rigorous review of the literature on pre-existing information relevant to mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in specific emergency affected context, using an integrated psychological and anthropological framework that potentially can be instrumental in understanding MHPSS needs, and how to devise culturally- appropriate MHPSS interventions in that particular emergency/humanitarian affected areas.
Examples from the field:
The mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide contains first-line management recommendations for mental, neurological and substance use conditions for non- specialist health-care providers in humanitarian emergencies where access to specialists and treatment options is limited.
For planning a mental health response in PHC, please refer to Tool 5: Checklist for integrating mental health in primary health care (PHC ) in humanitarian settings (page 47-52) in the UNHCR/WHO Assessing Mental Health and Psychosocial Needs and Resources Toolkit for Humanitarian Settings.
Further reading and other related resources:
Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) are widely used in emergencies as a first response to children’s needs and an entry point for working with affected communities. Because CFSs can be established quickly and respond to children’s rights to protection, psychosocial well‐being, and non‐formal education, CFSs are typically used as temporary supports that contribute to the care and protection of children in emergencies. These guidelines include guiding principles for field teams in establishing CFSs in different types of emergencies and contexts. They are also intended to guide advocacy efforts and donor practices in emergency settings where protection and well‐being ought to be high priorities.
A training package to be delivered to child workers with no experience running a child safe space, enabling them to establish a quality program in an emergency setting. Participants learn the theory behind CFSs, how to set up and run them, and what kind of resources are needed to support the psychosocial wellbeing and protection of children in emergencies.
The creation of “friendly spaces” for women and girls has been a key strategy in the protection and empowerment of women and girls. This document provides useful guidance on the aims of these spaces, and how they can best be established and managed, using the conflict context of South Sudan. The intention is to assist collaboration among agencies by building a consensus around the key aims, functions and guiding principles for Women and Girls Friendly Spaces.
The Baby Friendly Spaces (BFS) is a model of intervention for a holistic program to support pregnant, lactating women and their children in emergency situations.
The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS) are intended to:
A summary version of the CPMS is also available.
Further reading and resources:
These guidelines provide practical guidance and effective tools for humanitarians and communities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence, throughout all stages of emergency response, from preparedness to recovery. MHPSS is integrated throughout the guidelines.
Applicable to both IDP and refugee scenarios, the Toolkit incorporates a wide range of relevant information on managing displaced populations living in communal settings (collective centres, spontaneous sites, established camps, etc.).
This document is for humanitarian actors within the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster, at national and subnational levels, in countries facing emergencies and crises. This document provides an overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian actors within the CCCM cluster/sector should have about MHPSS in humanitarian emergencies.
This brief guidance note seeks to provide advice on protecting and supporting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Europe. It describes key principles and appropriate interventions to guide all those who are designing and organizing emergency services and/or providing direct assistance to the affected people.
This document clarifies relevant terminologies and approaches relating to psychosocial well-being and social and emotional learning (SEL) in education in crisis affected contexts, and to explore how psychosocial support (PSS) and social and emotional learning relate to one another
The purpose of this review is to explore literature and the experiences of three organisations that are working with people with psychosocial disability living in low- and middle-income countries.
Based on years of experience supporting the health & wellbeing of people working in some of the most difficult & dangerous parts of the world, what follows is a suggestion of learning and recommendations when thinking about staff care: