COVID-19 Operational Guidance Note: Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) within Health Programs
International Rescue Committee, 2020
This guidance summarizes the key actions for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)
within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate that pre-existing mental health
conditions will be exacerbated, and that new mental health problems will be induced by the COVID19 pandemic. This will occur in countries where IRC has ongoing MHPSS programming, and also in countries where IRC programs does not have dedicated mental health services and supports. We have outlined how to support continuity of existing MHPSS service and anticipate how to adapt programs based on the increased demand for MHPSS. All MHPSS plans should be coordinated with other sectors and other partners implementing MHPSS activities.
This guidance note is for MHPSS linked to the health system. There will be separate – but
complementary – guidance notes for MHPSS interventions that are implemented through VPRU,
Education and ERD programs.
In light of the unprecedented impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having across operations worldwide, UNHCR is revising its initial requirements of $33 million and is appealing for an additional $222 million, bringing revised requirements to $255 million to urgently support preparedness and response in situations of forced displacement over the next nine months.
COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health crisis, and within that crisis refugee and other forcibly displaced populations are at greater risk as the pandemic evolves.
UNHCR is focusing on protecting all forcibly displaced populations, prioritizing situations and
contexts—formal and informal—with large populations of refugees, IDPs, stateless persons and
other people of concern to ensure that health and WASH systems and services are shored up,
reinforced and quickly adapted.
Amnesty International, 2020
Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, governments across the Americas have begun to respond to COVID-19 in a variety of ways, ranging from calling for states of emergencies, to imposing travel bans, to implementing quarantines. Stakes are high and the way governments respond to this pandemic could determine the future of millions of people.
Governments are ultimately responsible for protecting people and their human rights but have often failed to do so in the Americas. Deep inequality, structural discrimination, a tendency to revert to repressive policing, censorship, underfunded public health systems, and inadequate social security and labour protections long predate the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region.
Human Rights Watch, 2020
International human rights law guarantees everyone the right to the highest attainable standard of health and obligates governments to take steps to prevent threats to public health and to provide medical care to those who need it. Human rights law also recognizes that in the context of serious public health threats and public emergencies threatening the life of the nation, restrictions on some rights can be justified when they have a legal basis, are strictly necessary, based on scientific evidence and neither arbitrary nor discriminatory in application, of limited duration, respectful of human dignity, subject to review, and proportionate to achieve the objective.
The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly rises to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation limiting freedom of movement. At the same time, careful attention to human rights such as non-discrimination and human rights principles such as transparency and respect for human dignity can foster an effective response amidst the turmoil and disruption that inevitably results in times of crisis and limit the harms that can come from the imposition of overly broad measures that do not meet the above criteria.
This document provides an overview of human rights concerns posed by the coronavirus outbreak, drawing on examples of government responses to date, and recommends ways governments and other actors can respect human rights in their response.
UNICEF, WHO, IFRC, 2020
The purpose of this document is to provide clear and actionable guidance for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools and other educational facilities. The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure requires many considerations but, if done well, can promote public health.
The document includes facts on COVID-19, information to school administrators, teachers and staff, parents/caregivers and community members as well as on age-specific health education with the aim to promote safe and healthy schools.
United Nations Coordinated Appeal, 2020
COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on all countries, both in terms of prompting the scaling of public health preparedness and response and protection of vulnerable populations, and in terms of requiring mitigation of broader social and economic impacts. While all countries need to respond to COVID-19, those with existing humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable, and less equipped and able to do so. Humanitarian needs may also occur in other countries as a result of excessive pressure on health systems and the overall delivery of essential services, as well as secondary effects on employment, the economy and mobility, the rule of law, protection of human rights, and possible social discontent and unrest.
“The world is only as strong as the weakest health system. This COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan aims to enable us to fight the virus in the world’s poorest countries, and address the needs of the most vulnerable people.” – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Until recently, the transmission of COVID-19 to developing countries or those experiencing ongoing
humanitarian emergencies had been limited,3 but such transmission is now occurring. Development and
humanitarian settings pose particular challenges for infectious disease prevention and control.4 Access
constraints and poor health and sanitation infrastructure are obstacles to disease prevention and treatment under the best of circumstances; when coupled with gender inequality and, in some cases, insecurity, public health responses become immeasurably more complex.
CARE’s analysis shows that COVID-19 outbreaks in development or humanitarian contexts could disproportionately affect women and girls in a number of ways, including adverse effects on their education, food security and nutrition, health, livelihoods, and protection. Even after the outbreak has been contained, women and girls may continue to suffer from ill-effects for years to come.
The publication includes a list of recommendations tailored to different actors.
Gender Based Violence AoR, Gender in Humanitarian Action, 2020
In this briefing note you can find information about emerging gender impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as recommendations as to how to respond in a gender sensitive way. The first six recommendations are (please open the link to see the full list of recommendations):
- Disaggregate data related to the outbreak by sex, age, and disability
- Country strategic plans for preparedness and response must be grounded in strong gender analysis, taking into account gendered roles, responsibilities, and dynamics
- Strengthen the leadership and meaningful participation of women and girls in all decision-making
processes in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak
- Ensure that women are able to get information about how to prevent and respond to the epidemic in ways they can understand
- Ensure human rights are central to the response
- First responders must be trained on how to handle disclosures of GBV
More than a decade after it was presented to the United Nations General Assembly, Graça Machel’s report on the agony of children trapped in armed conflict remains the definitive assessment of the issue. It has continuously roused moral outrage and has been a foundation for programming and advocacy.
The changing nature of contemporary armed conflict cries out for a different approach, one that no longer focuses on particular countries or themes but on the totality of issues affecting children caught in armed conflict, a point captured in Mrs. Machel’s study. That is the central message of this 10-year strategic review, and it grows out of Mrs. Machel’s powerful insight that “war violates every right of the child.” We cannot hope to move forcefully on behalf of children in conflict until we turn our attention to all impacts, on all children, in all situations affected by conflict. The organization of this report aims to heighten our understanding of the myriad ways in which armed conflict affects children – and how children regard their participation not only in war but in programmes aimed at preventing violence against them and in promoting their recovery and reintegration.
Save the Children, in collaboration with researchers from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), 2019
The protection of children in conflict – and with it the realisation of the promises made in the declarations, conventions and statutes of the 20th century – is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. The nature of conflict – and its impact on children – is evolving.
In today’s armed conflicts, there is often no longer a clearly demarcated battlefield: children’s homes and schools are the battlefield.
Increasingly, the brunt of armed violence and warfare is being borne by children. Children suffer in conflict in different ways to adults, partly because they are physically weaker and also because they have so much at stake – their physical, mental and psychosocial development are heavily dependent on the conditions they experience as children. Conflict affects children differently depending on a number of personal characteristics – significantly gender and age, but also disability status, ethnicity, religion and whether they live in rural or urban locations. The harm that is done to children in armed conflict is not only often more severe than that done to adults, it has longer lasting implications – for children themselves and for their societies
armed conflict child soldiers children grave violations against children human rights impunity internally displaced persons mental health sexual violence Afghanistan Central African Republic Democratic Republic of Congo Global Iraq Mali Nigeria Somalia South Sudan Syria Yemen