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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 72-75

How Process Matters in Strengthening MHPSS: A Reflection

Columbia University, Beaverdam, Virginia, USA

Correspondence Address:
PhD Michael G Wessells
Columbia University, 17028 Little River Dr, Beaverdam, VA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/intv.intv_5_23

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In developing the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, attention to social process was key for success. In retrospect, humility was crucial for reflecting on one’s own dogmas, opening up to different points of view and avoiding ideological fixity and unproductive debates. Inclusivity was the key for enabling learning from diverse perspectives and areas of expertise, drawing on understandings from different countries and developing richly contextual approaches. Effective leadership from Mark van Ommeren and participating agencies enabled a highly collaborative, transformative process. As the developing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) field has become institutionalized and respected for its importance, expertise and expanding evidence base, increased attention to the process is needed. Key process considerations at present include power sharing with local people, listening to and co-learning with affected people and collective critical reflection, including on issues of process and relationships with local people. Greater attention to process can help to complement needed technical approaches, avoid unintended harm and enable more contextual, effective and sustainable humanitarian action. With attention to both technical aspects and human processes, the field of MHPSS can develop and implement comprehensive approaches and make its greatest contributions to affected people.

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