Providing mental health and psychosocial support to communities in crisis or those recovering from trauma is a core expertise of social work. Such work might include: care and support of field workers, in-service training of staff and project participants, provision of psychosocial support to communities affected by natural disasters, support to those affected by HIV/AIDS, provision of hospice and palliative care, creation of child-friendly spaces during or immediately after emergencies and provision of psychosocial and basic health care services to refugees. Humanitarian relief workers themselves are also in need of the psychosocial services that social workers provide, especially when serving internationally and separated from their core support system of family and friends.
Standards for Psychosocial Care and Support in Humanitarian Emergencies
- Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings - The IASC is the primary United Nations mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance. The Guidelines enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.
- Psychosocial Working Group – A collaboration between academic institutions and humanitarian agencies committed to the development of knowledge and best practice in the field of psychosocial interventions in complex emergencies.
- Mental Health and Psychosocial Network – An on-line network that serves people working in the field of mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies
Staff Care and Support to International Aid Workers
- Psychosocial.org - Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers on Idealist.org
- Headington Institute – Provides training and psychological and spiritual support for humanitarian relief and development workers worldwide.
- Antares Foundation – Works to improve the quality of management and staff support and care in humanitarian and developmental organizations through research and training.
- People in Aid – A coalition that advocates, supports, and recognizes good practice in the management of people for all member organizations.
- Aid Workers Network – Enables aid workers to share practical advice and resources with one another.
Programs that Train Social Workers to Provide Psychosocial Support
- Psychosocial oncology - Best Practices of NASW Psychological Oncology Summit in Hungary 2008
- Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI)- Provides leadership, quality technical assistance and knowledge in psychosocial care and support for children and youth in communities in East and Southern Africa affected by HIV and AIDS, poverty and conflict.