IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings



Date of publication:  01 Jan 2007 Publisher:  Inter-Agency Standing Committee Publication type:  Guide / Guidelines / Principle



One of the priorities in emergencies is to protect and improve people's mental health and psychosocial well-being.

A significant gap has been the absence of a multi-sectoral, inter-agency framework that enables effective coordination, identifies useful practices, flags potentially harmful practices, and clarifies how different approaches to mental health and psychosocial support complement one another.

These Guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographical regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being. In addition, the Guidelines recommend selected psychological and psychiatric interventions for specific problems.

The composite term mental health and psychosocial support is used in this document to describe any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well-being and/or prevent or treat mental disorder.


The primary purpose of these guidelines is to enable humanitarian actors and communities to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people's mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.

The focus of the guidelines is on implementing minimum responses, which are essential, high-priority responses that should be implemented as soon as possible in an emergency. Minimum responses are the first things that ought to be done; they are the essentialfirst steps that lay the foundation for the more comprehensive efforts that may be needed (including during the stabilised phase and early reconstruction).

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