Professional News
IASC Releases New Guidelines
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 21 page 8-8

On September 14, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)—a broad coalition of 26 United Nations (U.N.) and non-U.N. agencies—released new guidelines that identify how different approaches to mental health and psychosocial support can complement one another in the midst of emergencies.

Emergency responders sometimes view the mental health and psychosocial well-being of communities undergoing disasters or conflicts as the sole responsibility of psychiatrists and psychologists. The IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, however, seeks to dispel that belief by emphasizing that protecting and promoting mental health and psychosocial well-being are the responsibilities of all humanitarian agencies and workers.

The IASC committee established the guidelines to focus on social interventions, with emphasis on the utilization of local resources, such as teachers, health workers, healers, and women's groups. Additionally, the guidelines provide direction on strengthening social networks and building on existing ways in which community members deal with distress in their lives. Such strategies include attention to protection and care of people with severe mental disorders and severe trauma-induced disorders, as well as access to" psychological first aid" for those in acute distress.

The guidelines will be available in various languages and posted at<www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/content/products/default.asp>.

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