New Responses to Meet Urgent Mental Health Needs

Some 84 million conflict-affected children have urgent mental health needs - needs that are not always met in humanitarian programmes. New initiatives to address these needs within emergency responses will soon be explored at a major global conference in the Netherlands - and War Child will be there…
Uganda Include War Child programme_Daniel_170526

Photo: Jeppe Schilder

Addressing Urgent Psychological Needs

International responses to armed conflicts and acute humanitarian crises are designed to meet urgent and immediate needs. Coordinated programmes provide vital food, water, medicines and shelter. The value of this life-saving assistance is incalculable - but we believe urgent psychological needs must also be addressed.

Rates of mental distress increase significantly in times of humanitarian crisis - as people confront violence, displacement and the loss of loved ones. This distress is particularly acute for the estimated 84 million children left to live with feelings of acute anxiety and hopelessness - yet these needs are frequently overlooked.

War Child believes that actions to integrate mental health and psychosocial support in emergency humanitarian responses should be a priority - and we are set to make this call in October at a major international conference in the Netherlands.

Nelson looking straight into the camera - participating in War Child programmes in Uganda

We work to improve the resilience and wellbeing of children growing up conflict affected areas, like Nelson (10) who escaped brutal violence in DR Congo.

Photo: War Child

Group of Ugandans dancing in line - War Child projects TeamUp

We provide sports, games and movement based activities to help children deal with anger, stress and interacting with peers.

Photo: War Child

Call for Action

The International Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Crisis Situations will see experts gather in Amsterdam on October 7 and 8 to explore potential solutions. The event follows a call by Sigrid Kaag - Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation - for increased support for the effective integration of mental health and psychosocial support responses in humanitarian coordination and response mechanisms.

Minister Kaag will repeat this call at the conference - and work to generate international political support and commitment in support of it. Yet the Netherlands and other leading nations are currently unwilling to release additional funds in support of this call - which currently means that increased psychosocial support will come at the expense of other emergency assistance.

“Another US$200 million is currently needed every year to reach all children in conflict areas in need of mental health and psychosocial support."
The Lancet

Estimates from leading medical journal The Lancet show that US$200 million is currently needed every year to reach all children in conflict areas in need of mental health and psychosocial support. It sounds like a significant sum - but if 20 countries increase their annual aid contribution by US$10 million we can bridge the gap.

War Child will be present at the conference - where we will call on the Netherlands to increase its annual contribution to the global ‘Education Cannot Wait’ fund. This will allow for specific funds to be allocated for psychosocial support interventions that can potentially reach every child living in the midst of armed conflict.

We will also present our final #DrawTheLine petition to Minister Kaag during the conference on October 8. The petition sees our supporters echo the call for increased investment in psychosocial support provision.

Visit the official conference website to find out more about this important event.