IOM Launches Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Displacement

Migration Health

Geneva— Mental health and psychosocial support are increasingly considered an essential element of humanitarian responses for populations displaced due to wars and conflicts, natural disasters, famine and poverty, and those torn by emergencies.  

Mass disruptions and displacement can bring to several sources of stress for individuals, families and communities involved. Providing psychosocial support in educational, cultural, community, religious and health settings reduces vulnerabilities, and prevents their stagnation.  

As Guglielmo Schinina, Head of Mental health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) at IOM stated, “A  community-based approach needs to inform mental health and psychosocial support in emergency and displacement situations, since it helps in addressing the collective and individual psychosocial reactions to the  adversity, building  on the existing or pre-existing strengths of affected communities, re-establishing a sense of agency and avoiding a feeling of disempowerment.”  

In line with that philosophy, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) yesterday (16/09) launched  its Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Displacement. The Manual is presented in an interactive online version, which includes hyperlinks to complementary resources accessible at this link: 

“The new manual is a step forward in IOM’s efforts to build the capacity of humanitarian actors and member states in addressing the psychosocial challenges of emergencies and displacement,” affirmed Jacqueline Weekers, Director of IOM’s Migration Health Division.  

The Manual is the fruit of two years’ labor as research, review and field testing, involving more than 100 professionals, practitioners, academics and humanitarian actors from IOM, other international organizations, NGOs, local initiatives and communities of practices.  

The main aim of the manual is to provide those responsible for MHPSS in emergencies with a reference document that can help them in the practical implementation of their activities with a community-based approach.  

Some of the activities aimed at strengthening the social fabric and helping people overcome their distress described in the manual include sociocultural, artistic, and educational programs and workshops, sport and play, rituals and celebrations, counselling and clinical and social support for those with severe mental disorders.  

The manual describes ways to integrate mental health and psychosocial support in other activities, like livelihood support, protection of vulnerable cases, and conflict transformation.       


The IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM has been active in psychosocial support for decades, by developing interventions, trainings and research projects in more than 70 countries worldwide. IOM MHPSS activities are supervised by a dedicated Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication Section. 

For more information please contact: Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication - Global, 


  • Self-portrait elaborated by a Nigerian IDP and psychosocial worker, during a five-day workshop on autobiographical models through art, organized by IOM in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Photo: IOM/Rola Soulheil. 

  •  Art workshop with Psychosocial Mobile Teams at Gubio IDP camp, Maiduguri, Nigeria. Photo: IOM 2018.