After the guidelines; the challenge of implementation

One year after the official launch of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, initiatives linked to their implementation have been undertaken in over 20 countries ranging from Iran and Nepal to Kenya and Peru. In this article we present an overview of the activities that are currently underway to implement the guidelines.

Power and ethics in psychosocial counselling: reflections on the experience of an international NGO providing services for Iraqi refugees in Jordan

This paper reflects on some of the moral dilemmas inherent in the provision of counselling for Iraqi refugees by highlighting the day-to-day experiences of psychosocial counsellors employed by an international nongovernmental organization (INGO) in Jordan. It is argued that the lack of clarity in role, short term recruitment policies, confused demands on INGOs and the complexity of the political situation of Iraqis in Jordan contribute to profound, and often insoluble, moral dilemmas for local staff charged with providing front line counselling services.

Ex-combatants in South Africa: how to address their needs

South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994. Fourteen years later, it is clear that ex-combatants remain a vulnerable group. A limited disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process has meant that many ex-combatants continue to face serious challenges. A number of nongovernmental organizations have taken up the task of addressing the psychosocial needs of this group. This paper describes their interventions and the impact on ex-combatants, as well as the challenges still facing this group.

Agape: a reconciliation initiative by members of civil society and former child-soldiers

‘Agape’ is a reconciliation project among victims of the armed conflict in Colombia and child-soldiers who, legally, are also victims of the armed conflict. The project was realised fully by volunteers, who are kidnap victims, refugees, students and other members of the Colombian community in Montreal, Canada.

Field report: peer support supervision as a procedure for learning from practical experience in a mental health setting

This field report describes a ‘minimal budget project’ aimed at developing the expertise of a mixed group of workers. This project included nurses, community workers, counsellors and psychosocial workers attached to, or connected with, the mental health units in four hospitals in east Sri Lanka. In order to develop expertise, the project included a series of basic counselling training, as well as ongoing guidance during monthly peer supervision meetings.

Building up mental health services from scratch: experiences from East Sri Lanka

The author describes his experiences as a psychiatrist in East Sri Lanka where he was involved in building mental health and psychosocial services in the context of war and disaster. He stresses the necessity of creating patient and family friendly services, and advocates for the principle of distributing basic services over the whole region, instead of providing a highly specialised service that most of the people who need help cannot reach.

Developing mental health and psychosocial support interventions in an extremely resource poor context: a case example from Southern Sudan

The situation in Southern Sudan poses strong challenges for the development of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services. Local government structures are weak and the health care system is hardly functioning at the primary health care level in terms of human resource, infrastructure and medical equipment. To develop MHPSS in such a context requires a strong focus on capacity building of the local staff and awareness activities on the community level though participatory mechanisms.

Iraqi refugees in Egypt: an exploration of their mental health and psychosocial status

Thousands of Iraqis have settled in Egypt since 2003, escaping death threats, torture, kidnappings and military attacks to face uncertainty in their lives and increasing strain on the psychosocial challenges in their new lives. This explorative study describes the psychosocial stress faced by these Iraqi refugees in Egypt. Two hundred and four Iraqis in Egypt filled in a checklist focussing on four groups of stress factors.

The challenges of academic and community partnership under military occupation and the complexity of power relations

In this paper, the reader is taken on a field trip to a village in the north of the West Bank. Events described in the report are used to explore some of the methodological dimensions of a psychosocial programme designed and implemented in joint partnership between a local Palestinian academic institution, the Institute of Community and Public Health of Birzeit University, and a Palestinian nongovernmental organisation the Community Based Rehabilitation programme.