Mental health is key to disaster risk reduction

Humanitarian crises have a major impact on mental health, worsening pre-existing conditions and creating new ones. There is now a clear consensus that humanitarian assistance should include mental health care and psychosocial support. However, the impact of mental health care and psychosocial support interventions is limited where the state of the mental health system prior to a crisis is already poor. Experience during the Ebola Virus Disease crisis in West Africa demonstrates how, by investing in development programmes to strengthen mental health systems, the cost-effectiveness of emergency response can be improved. Furthermore, embedding long-term systems strengthening efforts into relatively short-term emergency response builds bridges between the development and humanitarian sectors, for greater sustainability.

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