The Participant Perspective: Mental Health in Complex Emergencies

From IIHA Blog by Katarzyna Laskowski

The Mental Health in Complex Emergencies (MHCE) course is an intensive multidisciplinary training course for mental health workers and humanitarian program staff who wish to gain insight and competency in establishing mental health or psychosocial programs in conflict and post conflict areas or in complex disaster settings. Following last year’s MHCE course in Ethiopia, two participants – Sujen Man Maharjanand Caitlin Cockcroft-McKay – wrote about their experience and shared how the comprehensive and intensive training positively impacted their work in the field. In his personal blog, Sujen Man Maharjan of ICRC Nepal reflects on the course and also highlights the personal experiences of his classmates – other field practitioners – as they work to implement Mental Health and Psychosocial (MHPSS) programming in complex emergencies. In a special alumni reflection for the IIHA blog, Caitlin Cockcroft-McKay of HealthNet TPO also reflects on the training and shares how the practical application of the knowledge and tools gained contributed to her work as Psychosocial Project Coordinator in South Sudan. In her post, Caitlin emphasizes the impact and value of trainings such as the MHCE course:


“The kinds of trainings provided by the IIHA at Fordham University bring the MHPSS community within the NGO and humanitarian sectors a step closer to understanding how best to implement MHPSS programs in various, and often very difficult, contexts. It helps us to direct the conversation at the ground level, at the national and international level, and then to express the needs (and potential solutions) to the donors. The training in Ethiopia has really given me the direction I need both within my work in psychosocial programming, and also at the country level. I am able to feed into the coordination mechanisms and reference the training and experiences of experts in the field, in order to guide the discussion and suggest options for improving the provision of services. This is something that will take time. With experiences such as the one I had in Ethiopia, I do think with time and passion and imparting of knowledge, we can edge closer to supporting countries to provide basic mental health services to their people.”

Read Caitlin’s full reflection on the IIHA blog and more about her experience on Sujen’s blog. The next MHCE course will take place in October 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. Learn more on the IIHA website.