Statement: mental health needs of those affected by conflict and emergencies

We warmly welcome the focus of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement on mental health at this year’s conference. Our research over the past year has shown that historically there has been a lack of political will and investment to prioritise mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies and non-emergencies settings. Where it has existed, it has often been short term and piecemeal. The priority should be long-term, sustainable support and funding that bridges the humanitarian/ development nexus and a coordinated approach between international players and national actors. It also means a well understood, local context appropriate, response and a greater emphasis on nationally driven processes to ensure a sustainable mental health care system. In all these areas the Red Cross and Red Crescent can and does play a key role, and we are excited for this role to continue to grow with the passing of this resolution and the commitments pledged here.

With these points in mind we commend the Dutch Government who hosted the second annual Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in October. This led to 24 countries and 10 aid organisations committing to integrate and scale up mental health in humanitarian responses. We also commend the planned development of the new Minimal Intervention Service Package for mental health by WHO and UNICEF.

The BluePrint Group, a network of those working in mental health, has recently launched a humanitarian sub group, creating a space for collaboration on advocacy and it is already having success in positively influencing the global mental health agenda. In a video marking World Mental Health Day, and supporting our CSO-ed led campaign, Speak Your Mind, the Red Cross leadership and other global leaders commit to take greater action on mental health. All these are important steps.

The momentum around this issue is exciting, but now the world needs sustained commitment and delivery on the ground. We need all governments to invest in mental health – integrated into UHC and their emergency preparedness, response and recovery plans. And similar commitments and support from other key stakeholders including international agencies and civil society organisations.

Mental health is a global issue – one that knows no geographic, racial, gender, ethnic or other social boundaries. Everyone has the right to enjoy good mental health and to be able to access the support they need. The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has a central role in helping achieve this.