Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support

International Committee of the Red Cross


War and violence destroy communities and countries all over the world, and have a devastating impact on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of millions of people. They lead to the breakdown of local systems and infrastructure. As a result, adequate assistance is often unavailable when people need it the most. People affected by conflict and violence are at risk of death, displacement, loss of loved ones and injury – among others – and need medical care for both physical and psychological conditions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has developed these guidelines to outline the organization’s approach to mental health and psychosocial support
(MHPSS) during and after armed conflict and other situations of violence. These internal guidelines provide a framework for harmonizing MHPSS programmes within the
organization, combining international, evidence-based recommendations and practices with the expertise of the ICRC’s field teams. They seek to ensure the quality of the ICRC’s
interventions in order to effectively alleviate people’s distress and improve their capacity to function in daily life, support individual and collective coping mechanisms and prevent any additional harm.

This publication is a needs-based MHPSS programmatic overview. It describes issues of concern, programme-specific needs assessment methods, the main programme activities and implementation strategies and monitoring and evaluation processes.

In sharing these guidelines with an external audience, the ICRC aims to raise awareness of its approach among professionals and other interested parties and to promote coherent professional and operational programme standards by providing an insight into its strategic processes and field practices. Nevertheless, this publication is not intended to serve as a training manual for specific MHPSS techniques.


Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support cover
International Committee of the Red Cross
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