The UNICEF Afghanistan Country Office is seeking an institutional partner to support capacity strengthening and scale up of integrated MHPSS programming in Afghanistan. It’s a large multi-sectoral project and they are seeking a partner with current presence and a history of operations including MHPSS programming in Afghanistan. They are looking for an international institution that will subcontract with a national academic institution or NGO.
SHORT TITLE OF ASSIGNMENT
Capacity Strengthening to Scale Up of Integrated Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Programming in Afghanistan
Background and Rationale:
The withdrawal of US / Allied Forces and transition to the Islamic Emirates (Taliban) as the de-facto authorities in August 2021 has led to a period of instability and uncertainty in Afghanistan. Changing social norms, food insecurity, the collapse of financial systems and the worsening economic situation across the country with the COVID-19 pandemic in the backdrop has put millions of Afghan children and families at risk. This is likely to have a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of children, their families, and their significant others.
According to national MH, survey carry out in 2018 that the 12 months prevalence showed, 4.86% of the people of Afghanistan suffering from 4.86% Depression, 2.78% Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), 5.34% Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), 8.22% Any substance, around 48% High Psychological distress, and 24% of our 48% impaired their role due to MH. Meanwhile, the children also suffer from a huge number of mental problems i.e., emotional problems 39%, conduct disorder 40.75%, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 15.54%, Total difficulties 40.43%, any problem 57.45%, and any diagnosis 8.39%.
Prior to August 2021, progress had been made in establishing and working towards operationalizing a National Strategy for Mental Health (2019 – 2023). However, the current instability and uncertainty has interrupted that progress, increasing the need for MHPSS while creating instability in the MHPSS workforce, government structures and MHPSS coordination mechanisms critical to delivering these services. This has left an acute need to scale up access to MHPSS programming while strengthening the capacity of the burgeoning workforce to address MHPSS needs across the range of MHPSS intervention levels.
UNICEF has adopted a multisectoral approach to MHPSS. At the center of UNICEF’s approach is the social ecological model which recognizes the children and families’ existence as individual units but also within a larger environment and context. UNICEF’s approach to MHPSS seeks to promote an enabling environment which increase protective factors and nurtures the resilience of children and families. This is closely aligned with the current understanding of a multi-layered range of MHPSS interventions with cross-sectoral supports and interventions provided at the Basic Services and Security (Level 1), Community and Family Supports (Level 2), and Focused, Non-Specialist Support (Level 3). By integrating and delivering MHPSS through primary health care, nutrition, education as well as child protection / family strengthening programmes and services at Levels 1-3 of the MHPSS intervention pyramid, it is likely that fewer children and families will need the specialist and often limited care available at Level 4. This has implications for system and workforce capacity strengthening ensuring strong cross sectoral MHPSS coordination and referral pathways, and embedded MHPSS competencies across sectors. UNICEF has adopted a Global Multisectoral Operational Framework for MHPSS of Children, Adolescents and Caregivers Across Settings. The framework provides guidance to operationalize UNICEF’s approach to MHPSS, including how to monitor and evaluate progress and the impact of implementing this approach.
In the current context in Afghanistan, there is a need to build on the progress made under the previously established National Strategy for Mental Health as well as scale up plan for MHPSS as the target for UNICEF for 2022 is 4,237,000 of the affected and at-risk population. Strengthening capacity in MHPSS integrated programmes in the health and nutrition, education, child protection sectors and beyond is one of the strategies to meet the target and strengthen the provision of integrated services.
The context of Afghanistan, the development of the national Strategy for Mental Health and its implementation, created a momentum for all partners working on MHPSS and helped having their buy-in, ownership of this whole process. It helped building their capacity on MHPSS. They are coordinating all these activities through the MHPSS Working Group with professional members. The Academic institutions, especially Kabul University are technically involved in the development of curriculums and training modules which we need to improve.There is a need to build on these capacities and have them on board for any future intervention to ensure continued ownership and sustainability of all our intervention.
Capacity strengthening must promote the building of core competencies to deliver MHPSS programming as well as the infrastructure to facilitate coordination, referrals as well as a common framework for monitoring and evaluation across and within the various sectors engaged in MHPSS. UNICEF is working with its implementing partners, relevant coordination bodies, including the Child Protection Sub Cluster and De-Facto authority ministries / agencies to support the implementation of this multisectoral approach to MHPSS. The UNICEF Afghanistan country office has prioritized support to the following key cross sectoral initiatives as crucial entry points to scale and strengthen capacity for MHPSS across Afghanistan:
- Assess MHPSS related learning needs and developing / contextualising relevant MHPSS related training content to meet the specific learning and programming needs of zonal child protection officers, extenders, social workers, MHNT, representatives of women-led organisations, child friendly space implementing partners and other cross sectoral teams implementing integrated MHPSS programming
- Establish peer and formal supervision infrastructure and MHPSS supervision guidelines for zonal child protection officers, extenders, social workers, MHNT, representatives of women-led organisations, child friendly space implementing partners and other cross sectoral teams implementing integrated MHPSS programming
- Work together with academic institutions/partners to train master trainers to deliver MHPSS related training and accompanying supervision of zonal office child protection officers, extenders, social workers, MHNT, representatives of women-led organisations, child friendly space implementing partners and other cross sectoral teams implementing integrated MHPSS programming
- Mentoring and supervision of the cascading activities for the participants to the Integrating Mental Health and PSS and PFA foundational Psychological skills.
- Assess MHPSS related learning needs and developing / contextualising relevant MHPSS related training content to meet the specific learning needs of mobile health and nutrition team psychosocial counsellors, community health workers and varying levels of primary health care practitioners implicated in MHPSS implementation
- Train master trainers cascading MHPSS related training to psychosocial counsellors embedded in mobile health and nutrition teams across Afghanistan
- Train master trainers cascading MHPSS related training to community health workers
- Assess MHPSS related learning needs and developing / contextualising relevant MHPSS related training content to meet the specific learning and programming needs of teachers / learning activity animators
- Development of MHPSS modules / activities to be included in teacher training
- Delivery of the MHPSS module via training of trainers for mainstream teachers, community-based education, and child friendly space animators / teachers.
Adolescent Development and Participation (ADAP)
- Engage and arrange for ADAP implementing partners / youth networks to be trained in the I Support My Friends curriculum for peer to peer psychological first aid for young people
- Contextualise the I Support My Friends curriculum and resource pack to fit the current Afghanistan context
- Provide oversight and supervision as ADAP implementing partners cascade the I Support My Friends training to youth researchers
- Engage and train ADAP implementing partners / youth networks to conduct youth led / participatory action research on child and young people perceptions and access to MHPSS
- Review / contextualise MHPSS youth survey for the Afghanistan context
- Supervise ADAP implementing partners / youth networks as they carry out MHPSS related action research in accordance with IASC Guidelines on Working with and for Young People in Humanitarian and Protracted Crises
- Establish ongoing supervision and support infrastructure among ADAP implementing partners and for participating youth researchers and peer support facilitators
Gender / Gender Based Violence
- Conduct Capacity need assessment in GBV area.
- Provide PFA training for Gender staff and Gender implementing partners.
- Support Gender implementing partners while cascading the training and provide supervision and guidance.
Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC)
- Work with UNICEF SBC team to gather and analyse information related to knowledge, attitudes, practices influencers and effective delivery platforms in target communities for SBC messaging related to promoting positive perceptions of mental health, positive messages to promote wellbeing and social connectedness, messages to reduce stigma related to mental health, messages to promote knowledge of and easy access to MHPSS services in the local community.
- Develop MHPSS related content and work with SBC to design products and messaging to be used in IEC materials, well-being promotion campaigns and across media platforms
- Work with child friendly space implementing partners and other sectors implementing integrated MHPSS programming to integrate delivery of MHPSS messaging through relevant staff, IEC materials and media platforms in targeted local communities.
MHPSS Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
- Train relevant staff / practitioners from cross sectoral teams implementing integrated MHPSS programming to collect / monitor data/ means of verification for MHPSS indicators.
- Develop MHPSS result framework
UNICEF’s Afghanistan country office is seeking to partner with (a) local academic institution(s) and/or national / non-governmental organization(s) with a current presence and history of operations including MHPSS programming in Afghanistan. The organization should have demonstrable experience in MHPSS programming and capacity strengthening with MHPSS specialist and non-specialist practitioners as well as a history of capacity strengthening with institutions, local organizations, coordination, and government structures working in the MHPSS space in Afghanistan. The success institutional partner should have networks and previous / current programming experience in the health, education and / or child protection sectors; experience working with academic institutions / partners who have graduates experienced in social work, counselling, psychology or areas of study relevant to MHPSS; experience developing and carrying out social behaviour change messaging campaigns and a strong MHPSS MEAL practice within their organization from which they could model and provide technical support and training to implementing partners to encourage consistent MEAL practices which reflect the implementation of UNICEF’s Global Multisectoral Operational Framework for MHPSS of Children, Adolescents and Caregivers Across Settings.
Support MHPSS scale up plan across sectors and build the capacity of different stakeholders.
Through this institutional consultancy, the below specific objectives will be achieved:
- Assessment of MHPSS programming capacity and competencies across sectors.
- Strengthen the capacity of MHPSS stakeholders to implement and scale up cross sectoral integrated approach to MHPSS.
- Developing/reviewing relevant training materials to suit the context and the scale up plans.
- Rolling out the training materials and providing training of trainers (TOT).
- Providing follow up, technical support and supervision during the training cascade.
- Support building the national capacities on MHPSS by sub-contracting a national relevant partner to support the implementation of this consultancy
Assessment of MHPSS capacity and competencies across sectors, developing relevant training materials, delivering training of trainers, and providing oversight, technical support and supervision as training is cascaded to targeted professionals, helpers, community members and networks, through sub-contracting a national partner as part of building their capacity and to facilitate the communication, networking based on their knowledge of the contexts, relevant partner and language.
The international institution will be accountable to undertake the roles and responsibilities as identified in the table of the activities/tasks and deliverables, taking into consideration the timeline and the budget for each activity. UNICEF Pre-approval is required for any change/deviation in the deliverables, milestones, timelines etc.
The international institution will work with its national partner carry out activities and reach the identified deliverables in the country.
Qualifications or specialized knowledge / experience required for the assignment
International institution/ Academic or non-governmental organization(s) with:
- A current presence and history of knowledge/operations including MHPSS programming.
- Demonstrable experience in MHPSS programming and capacity strengthening with MHPSS specialist and non-specialist practitioners
- A history of capacity strengthening with institutions, local/international organisations, coordination, and government structures working in the MHPSS space in Afghanistan.
- Networks and previous / current programming experience in the health, education and / or child protection sectors.
- Experience working with academic institutions / partners who have graduates experienced in social work, counselling, psychology, or areas of study relevant to MHPSS.
- Experience developing and carrying out social behaviour change messaging campaigns
- A strong MHPSS MEAL practice within their organisation from which they could model and provide technical support and training to implementing partners to encourage consistent MEAL practices which reflect the implementation of UNICEF’s Global Multisectoral Operational Framework for MHPSS of Children, Adolescents and Caregivers Across Settings.