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December 13, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm UTC+0

Dear Colleagues,

MHPSS.net was pleased to host the webinar “FAITH MATTERS IN HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE: How sensitivity to religious and spiritual identities can contribute to mental health & psychosocial support” on 13th December 2018, with presentation from Alastair Ager (Queen Margaret University and Columbia University) and Michael French (Lutheran World Federation), and Peter Ventevogel (UNHCR) and Marcio Gagliato (MHPSS.net) as moderators.

To watch the webinar recording, please use this link.


About the webinar:

The vast majority of people lay claim to some form of faith or religion, and they do not leave it behind in a humanitarian crisis. Taking people’s faith identity seriously in shaping humanitarian response is simply part of a people-centred approach. This means that humanitarians need to be ‘faith-sensitive’. This term (as opposed to ‘faith-based’) ensures a focus on the faith, identity and dignity of people affected by conflict, disaster and displacement, rather than on the faith allegiance (or non-faith allegiance) of humanitarian organisations and agencies. MHPSS is a key entry point for this, based as it is on a cross-sectoral approach, and seeking to respond to people at all levels. Working out how to be ‘faith-sensitive’ – how to navigate the sometimes complex waters of faith and faith identity and decide what to do and not to do – requires the insights of all humanitarian actors, non-faith as well as faith-based. A people-centred approach to faith and faith identity can then lead on to consideration of how best to act in a faith-sensitive way by engaging faith communities and faith actors, to build understanding and to work in partnership. To do all this, humanitarians require tools, and this Webinar presents one such tool intended for use by all humanitarian actors, regardless of their faith or ideology: the manual ‘A Faith-sensitive approach in humanitarian response: Guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Programming’, with illustrations and examples from practice which highlight the real challenges and opportunities. There will be time for questions and discussion.

To download the manual, click here

About the Presenters:

Alastair Ager
 is Director of the Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Professor of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He has worked in the field of health and development for over 30 years, after training in psychology at the universities of Keele, Wales and Birmingham. He has worked as a consultant with a broad range of agencies including UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, Save the Children, and World Vision. Alastair is active in researching the engagement of local faith communities in humanitarian response, work conducted in collaboration with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities and a range of faith-based, secular and academic partners. He has written widely on refugee wellbeing and integration; strategies of community engagement in humanitarian response; and the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions. Together with Wendy Ager and Rebecca Horn, he played a key role in the Consultancy Team responsible for much of the content and hard work behind the manual ‘A Faith-sensitive approach in humanitarian response: Guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Programming’.

Michael French 
has 30 years’ experience in the humanitarian, development and human rights sector. He is based at the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) head office in Geneva where he is currently responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean, Interfaith collaboration on humanitarian response, and Human Rights-based approaches. He has been project lead for the multi-agency team (LWF, Islamic Relief, UNHCR, IFRC Psychosocial Centre, HIAS, Church of Sweden, World Vision) which has produced the manual ‘A Faith-sensitive approach in humanitarian response: Guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Programming’. He has worked with faith-based actors (LWF, Anglican Church, etc.) and others (e.g. Save the Children) in various roles including water engineering, pastoral/psychosocial support, spirituality, advocacy, programme and senior management at global, country and local level. He is keen to see practical tools for busy humanitarians trying to make sense of the complicated world of spirituality, religious identity and faith communities.

About the Moderators:

Peter Ventevogel, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist and a medical anthropologist. Since 2013 he works with UNHCR as their Senior Mental Health Officer based in Geneva. From 2008-2013 he was the editor-in-chief of ‘Intervention, Journal for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas’, published by the War Trauma Foundation. He worked with another Dutch NGO, HealthNet TPO, in mental health projects in Afghanistan (2002 – 2005) and Burundi (2005-2008) and as their Technical Advisor Mental Health in the head office in Amsterdam (2008-2011). Peter also regularly did consultancies for the WHO in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria. He has been course director of several academic short courses worldwide.

Marcio Gagliato
 is a psychologist, with extensive field experience responding to humanitarian emergencies. Since 2015, he has been a part of the MHPSS.net team, with lead responsibility for supporting ongoing humanitarian emergencies. In 2008 he was awarded a Human Rights fellowship from Columbia University (New York), and over the past decade he has worked with several organizations, including the ICRC (Gaza, Iran), IOM (Libya), the Center for the Victims of Torture (Zimbabwe), Save the Children (Brazil) and CARE (HQ and East Central Africa Region). He has completed various consultancies with IMC, Chemonics, UNICEF, WHO, CARE International, SOS Children’s Villages focusing on a wide range of MHPSS management programmatic areas, especially in emergencies and protracted crises field level.

Other questions about the webinar:

If you are unable to join the webinar meeting live, a link to the recording of the meeting will be later posted on MHPSS.net

If you have any queries regarding the webinar, please contact Renata Reali via e-mail at renata@mhpss.net or via WhatsApp at +55 11 99815-4597.

We hope to see you in the Webinar room!

– the MHPSS.net Team –


December 13, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm UTC+0
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