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Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)

The term mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) refers to any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial wellbeing and prevent or treat mental health conditions.  

Children globally are exposed to unprecedented rates of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly those in crisis, migration and displacement situations, and the psychological and social impacts of emergencies, or experiences of adversity, can undermine the daily functioning and mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population. Severe and prolonged stress can have serious long-term consequences, including disrupting children’s development and learning and increasing the risk of physical health problems such as diabetes, heart disorders and mental health conditions in adulthood.  

How children are affected, and their ability to cope, is influenced by their age and developmental stage, their pre-existing health and mental health, the support of caregivers, and the overall social environment of children and families (e.g. community support, sense of identity and material resources). The mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of caregivers has a critical impact on children's development and wellbeing.  

Save the Children promotes a cross-sectoral, multi-layered approach to MHPSS in order to meet the ‘continuum of care’ needs of all children and families in emergencies or facing adversity – from those with needs for general support, to those with mental, neurological or substance use disorders or serious protection needs. MHPSS interventions should be integrated into existing services and structures (e.g. health clinics, schools, etc.) to improve access and reduce potential stigma and discrimination. This approach is outlined in Save the Children’s MHPSS Cross-sectoral Strategic Framework which has been developed to respond to critical gaps, and to lift the scale and quality of Save the Children’s MHPSS programming. 

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