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Building Back Better: Sustainable Mental Health Care after Emergencies

World Health Organization (WHO), 2012

This WHO report shares detailed accounts from 10 diverse emergency-affected areas, each of which built better-quality and more sustainable mental health systems despite challenging circumstances. Cases originate from countries small to large; low to middle-income; across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; and affected by large-scale natural disasters, prolonged conflict, and large-scale influxes of refugees. While their contexts varied considerably, all were able to convert short-term interest in population mental health into sustainable, long-term improvements.
This WHO report goes beyond aspirational recommendations by providing detailed descriptions of how mental health reform was accomplished in these situations. Importantly, case contributors report not only their major achievements, but also their most difficult challenges and how they were overcome. Key overlapping practices emerging from these experiences are also summarized.

This report provides the proof of concept that it is possible to build back better, no matter how weak the existing mental health system or how challenging the emergency situation. I call upon all readers to take steps to ensure that those faced with future emergencies do not miss the important opportunity for mental health reform and development.

– Dr Margaret Chan, former Director-General WHO

Executive summary available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish here.

Updated February 25, 2020.

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