“A Human Right Left Behind: Nordic Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Fragile and Humanitarian Settings”

- conference held on 29-30 August 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Background


Millions of people around the world live in communities affected by conflict, violence, poverty, climate change, displacement and other sudden and protracted crises, with significant, adverse effect on the development and well-being of children and youth. In addition to direct exposure to violence, loss, and other distressing circumstances, crises commonly disrupt the delivery of needed services, upend the social fabric and support systems of entire families, communities, and societies, and bring about a host of other daily stressors.
 
The number of landmark reports, declarations and resolutions adopted in recent years by national and international bodies demonstrates the increasing recognition of the short- and long-term impacts of crisis on children, families and communities and the need to ensure access to quality mental health care and psychosocial support in crisis-affected settings. Promoting mental health and psychosocial well-being is also a major pillar of SDG 3: Good health and well-being for all at all ages; so, how do we ensure the right to quality mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is no longer left behind?

Across the Nordic region, actors from multiple sectors have built up expertise and experience for addressing mental health and psychosocial needs in humanitarian settings. There has also been substantial Nordic advocacy and support for putting the rights and dignity of children, youth, and caregivers at the center of both domestic and foreign strategy. Instead of continuing to work in silos, Nordic decision-makers and civil society have decided to work jointly using their collective strengths to advance policy, research, and practice that addresses the mental health and psychosocial needs of all people, at all ages, who are affected by crises around the world.

To ensure MHPSS integration is prioritized in all humanitarian response, preparedness, and recovery, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark hosted the first ever conference bringing together policymakers, academics, donors, and civil society experts in the Nordic countries. With vital support from the Danish Red Cross, ICDP Norway, IFRC PS Centre, MHPSS Collaborative, Save the Children Denmark, and War Child Sweden, A Human Right Left Behind: Nordic Conference on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Fragile and Humanitarian Settings, held on 29-30 August 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

The conference launched the first, multi-level network of MHPSS stakeholders across the Nordic countries; co-create recommendations for priorities and actions in an inspirational 2022-2030 MHPSS Road Map; and, with participation of high-level government representatives from Nordic countries, adopt a joint declaration on a shared Nordic aspiration for global attention and collective action on MHPSS in fragile and humanitarian settings.

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Conference themes

List of cross-cutting topics:
 

1.    Education (in emergencies)
2.    Gender-based violence 
3.    People on the move / Migration and displacement 
4.    Community approaches
5.    Workforce capacity 
6.    Protection
 

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Conference participants

This first ever Nordic Conference on MHPSS in Fragile and Humanitarian Settings brought together a unique group of multi-level MHPSS stakeholders and experts in policy, strategy, research, practice, advocacy, and funding, representing over 60 different organizations and institutions. More than 75% of participants represent ministries and government institutions, academic and research institutions, non-governmental organizations, private foundations and UN agencies based in and around the Nordic region. Global and field partners with expertise in the conference’s topical areas as well as several youth participants part of the youth advisory committee was present to speak on plenary panels and facilitate and present during certain breakout discussions. 

Conference participation was by invitation only to find common ground between as many strategic MHPSS partners and stakeholders in the Nordic region as possible. The organizers intend to expand participation for future Nordic MHPSS conferences for Nordic-based stakeholders as well as partners and experts living in affected communities around the globe.

  • Representatives from more than 60 different organizations and institutions was present at the first Nordic Conference on MHPSS held in Copenhagen
     
  • More than 75% of participants work for an organization or institution based in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
     
  • Nearly 25% of participants are high-level MHPSS experts coming from global headquarters, donor institutions, and affected contexts.
     
  • A youth advisory committee of ten youth mental health advocates who are from or still living in communities and countries in which they endured multiple complex crises hosted their own breakout session and contribute to the 2022-2030 Nordic roadmap on MHPSS. 
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