IASC Interim Briefing Note on COVID-19 Outbreak Readiness and Response Operations - MHPSS

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The composite term ‘mental health and psychosocial support’ (MHPSS) is used in the Inter Agency Standing Commit-tee (IASC) Guidelines for MHPSS in Emergency Settings to describe ‘any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well-being and/or prevent or treat mental health condition’. The global humanitarian system uses the term MHPSS to unite a broad range of actors responding to emergencies such as the COVID-19 outbreak, including those working with biological approaches and sociocultural approaches in health, social, education and community settings, as well as to ‘underscore the need for diverse, complementary approaches in providing ap-propriate support’.1
The IASC Guidelines for MHPSS in Emergency Settings recommends that multiple levels of interventions be integrated within outbreak response activities. These levels align with a spectrum of mental health and psychosocial needs and are represented in a pyramid of interventions (See Figure 1) ranging from embedding social and cultural considerations in basic services, to providing specialised services for individuals with more severe conditions. Core principles include: do no harm, promote human rights and equality, use participatory approaches, build on existing resources and capac-ities, adopt multi-layered interventions and work with integrated support systems. Checklists for using the guidelines have been produced by the IASC Reference Group.

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