On 7th and 8th October, the Netherlands hosted the second annual Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. Following the UK’s hosted summit last year, this year’s theme focused on the provision of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in humanitarian response and emergency situations.
Minister Sigrid Kaag of the Netherland’s opening statement set the tone for the conference, and referenced the poet Wilfred Owen:
“No longer will we focus our efforts exclusively on rebuilding bombed-out bridges and providing first aid. We need to acknowledge the soul; that which makes us human.”
Throughout the two days, the summit focused on the importance of MHPSS, and the need for Governments, policymakers and humanitarian response workers to work together to address the mental health needs of those affected by emergencies.
The Summit was packed with informative panels that included those with lived experience, ministers, donors, and experts. This included a panel on Voices from the Field, and on Scaling up MHPSS and Task Shifting which featured BluePrint Group Member, Rabih El Chammay, the head of National Mental Health Programme, Lebanon.
United for Global Mental Health’s Deputy CEO Sarah Kline helped formulate background papers and presented in the ‘Investing in MHPSS’ working group, as well as the MHPSS in public health emergencies working group, where Speak Your Mind campaigners from The Carter Center also joined and helped inform attendees on the importance of services for those affected by public health emergencies. The final working group papers for all sessions can be found on the Dutch Netherlands MFA website.
The second day of the summit saw 24 countries and 10 international aid organisations agreeing to an Amsterdam Conference Declaration. The declaration is a guiding principle for humanitarian response plans, which endorsers commit to integrating and scaling up MHPSS in humanitarian responses, and agree to continue to draw attention to the mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by emergencies.
The summit concluded with a handover to France, who will be hosting the Summit on October 9th and 10th, 2020. You can find further information on the Summit on the Netherlands MFA website.