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    Inter-agency agreement on mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings [editorial]

    Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

    Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2007 Nov; 85(11):822.

    Armed conflicts and natural disasters cause substantial psychological and social suffering to affected populations. Despite a long history of disagreements, international agencies have now agreed on how to provide such support. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), established in response to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182, is a committee of executive heads of United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, Red Cross and Red Crescent agencies and consortia of nongovernmental organizations responsible for global humanitarian policy. In 2005, the IASC established a task force to develop guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies. The guidelines use the term "mental health and psychosocial support" to describe any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well being or to prevent or treat mental disorders. Although "mental health" and "psychosocial support" are closely related and overlap, in the humanitarian world they reflect different approaches. Aid agencies working outside of the health sector have tended to speak of supporting psychosocial well being. Health sector agencies have used the term mental health, yet historically also use "psychosocial rehabilitation" and "psychosocial treatment" to describe nonbiological interventions for people with mental disorders. Exact definitions of these terms vary between and within aid organizations, disciplines and countries, and these variations fuel confusion. The guidelines' reference to mental health and psychosocial support serves to unite a broad group of actors and communicates the need for complementary supports. (excerpt)
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