Integrative Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Interventions for Refugees in Humanitarian Crisis Settings

  • Inka WeissbeckerEmail author
  • Fahmy Hanna
  • Mohamed El Shazly
  • James Gao
  • Peter Ventevogel


Refugees are often exposed to various interrelated stressors including the loss of resources and belongings, death of, or separation from, loved ones as well as direct exposure to armed conflict and violence. Psychological distress is common amongst refugees, with a substantial percentage developing mild to moderate mental disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders. A small percentage of people in refugee settings have severe mental disorders (often exacerbations of pre-existing disorders) and they are especially vulnerable.

This chapter outlines complex challenges in addressing the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs of refugees and describes key global guidelines, programmatic elements and recommendations in the areas of MHPSS including situational assessments, coordination of services and functional integration of mental health interventions within existing health systems. Various specific intervention modalities will be discussed, including psychological first aid, scalable psychological interventions, community-based psychosocial work and training of health workers in basic mental health care. This chapter has the potential to inform the planning, implementing or researching of MHPSS considerations for programmes in humanitarian refugee crises.


Mental health Psychosocial support Refugees IASC guidelines Psychological first aid mhGAP Scalable psychological interventions Health systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inka Weissbecker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fahmy Hanna
    • 2
  • Mohamed El Shazly
    • 3
  • James Gao
    • 4
  • Peter Ventevogel
    • 5
  1. 1.Technical Unit, International Medical CorpsWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance AbuseGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Public Health Unit, United Nations High Commissioner for RefugeesErbilIraq
  4. 4.Centre for Global Mental HealthLondonUK
  5. 5.Public Health SectionUnited Nations High Commissioner for RefugeesGenevaSwitzerland

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