An Intervention Special Issue Integrating mental health care into existing systems of health care: during and after complex humanitarian emergencies

Complex humanitarian emergencies, whether arising from armed conflict or natural disaster, challenge the mental health system of a country in many ways. Not least because they increase the risk of mental disorder in the population, and undermine the pre-existing structures of care. They may, however, also bring new opportunities to create change. In this way, new structures and paradigms may emerge from the midst of a crisis. The probabilities for such a change to occur vary from one setting to another. Regardless, it has been seen that interventions in complex humanitarian emergencies should not be limited to the deployment of specialised resources that will disappear once the emergency has lost its urgency, or visibility. Apart from provision of direct services, interventions in these circumstances should also aim to build local capacity and install sustainable systems of mental health care at the time of the intervention. This paper serves as an introduction to this special issue of ‘Intervention’ and examines the various aspects surrounding integration of mental health care and psychosocial support into overall health systems during, or after, complex humanitarian emergencies.

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Ventevogel, Peter; Pérez-Sales, Pau; Férnandez-Liria, Alberto; Baingana, Florence