Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: What the Netherlands is doing in Jordan

Mental health is an integral element of people’s wellbeing and their ability to interact and cope in times of crisis. It is the driving force to how people react, produce, and contribute to their community. At least 1 in 5 people who experience conflict or disaster develop a psychological condition. Given the humanitarian imperative to reduce suffering, there is an urgent need for psychosocial support for refugees. This is why mental health in a humanitarian context is a priority for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In Jordan, the Netherlands pays special attention to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in all of its relevant humanitarian and development projects.

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©MFA The Netherlands | Martijn Beekman

Building on the Dutch commitment to broaden recognition of the importance of MHPSS and on the Netherlands long history of helping develop expertise on MHPSS, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag hosted the first International Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Crisis Situations on 7 and 8 October 2019. Ministers and high-level representatives from countries and international organizations convened in Amsterdam to address MHPSS needs of people affected by emergency situations and protracted crises. During the conference, humanitarian organisations discussed what they are already doing to advocate, mainstream, and integrate MHPSS in different programs and initiatives, and how they can increase their impact. At the end of the conference 25 countries endorsed the Amsterdam Declaration, which consists of the basic principles for the integration of MHPSS in crisis responses. Jordan was amongst the countries that endorsed the declaration.

More recently, Minister Kaag hosted a side-event on ‘Building the future: the crucial role of young people and mental health and psychosocial support in the Syria crisis response’ during the VI Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region on June 25, 2020, with Jordanian participation. Read her full speech here.

In Jordan, the Netherlands is working with its partners to mainstream and reinforce MHPSS in humanitarian and other programmes. Our gender, human rights and youth portfolio’s engage with mental health, as does our work in education and social protection. For example, The Netherlands through UNICEF provides counselling to children and their parents, through counsellors and psychologists. These sessions are conducted through one-on-one sessions or in groups. UNICEF also works with the Ministry of Education in Jordan to support children’s protection and wellbeing needs.  It strengthens the capacity of teachers and parents to prevent and respond to violence against children. In addition, it  promotes activities that support MHPSS needs of children, and help them cope with negative effects of violence. Among the many partners that The Netherlands supports is UNHCR, who support the capacity building of social protection referral systems related to survivors of gender-based violence and children at risk. They take a case management approach, with  MHPSS built-in to the overall holistic response.