Mental health and psychosocial support: Not a luxury for some, but a right for all

A Movement roadmap for implementation

March 2023

Staff from the Philippine Red Cross (credit: IFRC)

The Movement saw an urgent need to increase efforts to address mental health and psychosocial support needs and made a historic commitment to do so. In December 2019, a joint Movement policy on mental health and psychosocial needs (MHPSS) was adopted by the Movement at the 2019 Council of Delegates, and a resolution was adopted by the Movement and states party to the Geneva Conventions at the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Since then, the policy and resolution have been translated into a roadmap, which sets out six priority action areas and outlines the outputs and outcomes expected by 2023. Five working groups were established to continue implementation activities that focus on specific areas of MHPSS. The working groups began their activities in 2021, with around 30 National Societies and other members of the Movement participating in at least one group. The working groups are managed by two co-leads from a National Society and/or the IFRC and/or the ICRC. The working groups are still open for National Societies representatives to join and proactively help translate the policy into practice.

The MHPSS roadmap is now in its third year of implementation and the working groups will focus on the following areas:

Working group 1: Guarantee a basic level of psychosocial support and integrate mental health and psychosocial support across sectors

  • Continue the mapping of basic psychosocial support courses, basic tools for monitoring and evaluation, and key contacts to promote the integration of MHPSS across sectors.

Working group 2: Develop a holistic MHPSS approach between Movement components and in collaboration with other actors

  • Collect lessons learned from different contexts where Movement entities collaborate on MHPSS programmes and projects.

Working group 3: Protect and promote the mental health and psychosocial well-being of staff and volunteers

  • Finalize an e-learning module to raise awareness among managers and leaders of the importance of mental health and psychosocial well-being for their staff and volunteers.

Working group 4: Demonstrate the impact of MHPSS interventions through research, evidence, and monitoring and evaluation (with a digital MHPSS subgroup)

  • Organize a series of four webinars on assessment, monitoring and evaluation, research, and cultural adaptation to start in January 2023; support two research projects to investigate the challenges that National Societies face when implementing and contextualizing monitoring and evaluation; and develop a set of practical resources to promote MHPSS research in the Movement.

Working group 5: Strengthen resource mobilization for MHPSS in humanitarian response and mobilize political support for MHPSS – humanitarian diplomacy and advocacy

  • Support the delivery of joint messaging at key events and establish good relationships with donors.

In June 2023, an endline survey will be shared to assess all developments made since the adoption of the policy and resolution. At the 2022 Council of Delegates, 17 National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC made a joint statement, providing an update on progress made and communicating that a new MHPSS governance structure would be established to ensure that the huge efforts in delivering the MHPSS roadmap can continue. This new governance structure aims to maintain the collective momentum in implementing the policy and resolution, and to ensure MHPSS is not a luxury for some, but a right for all.

If you would like to find out how the MHPSS policy and resolution are being implemented, or if your National Society would like to join any of the working groups, please contact Nathalie H. Rigall at:

Read more about this topic

To find out why mental health matters, watch the Movement’s video on MHPSS, which also includes information about the MHPSS policy and resolution.

Find all content related to MHPSS on the IFRC’s Psychosocial Support Reference Centre website. You can also access the 2022 Council of Delegates progress report on the implementation of the MHPSS policy.

An outline of the five working groups’ activities and plans for 2023 are set out in this three‑page summary of the annual meeting of the working group co-leads, together with information about the interim coordination structure.

Listen to two Heartbeat of Humanity podcasts on advocating for MHPSS and the integration of psychosocial support across sectors.

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