This paper explores the key issue of mental health and psycho-social services (MHPSS), from a youth-specific perspective. Drawing on the assertions and recommendations of the YPS Progress Study, and coupled with the increasing attention to MHPSS within the sustaining peace agenda, this policy brief pays special attention to the role of youth-specific psycho-social services as a vital dimension of transformative youth resilience, essential to both addressing the consequences and prevention of violent conflict.
This is a report commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.
On 15 October the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, gave an address to the “Annual Conference 2020: Harnessing Potential” hosted by The Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law. The speech focused on the “Enhanced Integration of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Peacebuilding”. The speech focused on sharing the recommendations for the UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review developed with a multidisciplinary Task Force of which I was a member. The Task Force was established by the government of The Netherlands which is promoting the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in peacebuilding efforts. You can listen to my speech below:
Today, the Chair addressed the UN General Assembly High-level Week event on “COVID-19 and the role of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in building resilience and sustaining social cohesion and peace”. The event was hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Center on International Cooperation and the g7+. The Chair spoke on the invitation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event was co-Chaired by H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General.
The aim of the event was to present and discuss how Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the context of COVID-19 can help individuals and communities to retain or regain resilience, to strengthen solidarity and cohesion, to address trauma and to foster reconciliation. And how MHPSS can help counter social disintegration and help to support efforts to build and sustain peace. The Chair’s input focused on his work with the Netherlands government as part of their Task Team exploring the integration of MHPSS into the UN peacebuilding architecture.
On 29 April 2020, at the request of the Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid Department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chair participated in an international Member State Consultation focusing on psychosocial issues and peacebuilding.
The event was aimed at enhancing the psychosocial focus on peacebuilding as part of the current 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. The Chair is currently working on a working group with the Dutch government on their submission for the review. At the Member State Consultation, the Chair presented a paper entitled “Mind the past to build the future: Systematic attention for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts”. The paper provides a basic introduction to the psychosocial dynamics that need to be analysed and addressed when working on the peace-conflict continuum, and the value-added of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts.
On 12 January 2016 the Chair travelled to Berlin to the Sigmund Freud University where he was asked to deliver a public lecture as part of their social psychology series. The title of the lecture Professor Hamber gave was “Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation”. The lecture explored how for victims of political violence they are often asked to live with ambivalence in a productive way, i.e. continue their lives after a peace process despite the
suffering and loss they have experiences. Similarly, Hamber argued that societies emerging from conflict need to find collective social and political ways of living with the ambivalences of the past. This type of thinking is difficult to reconcile with the approach of governments and policymakers, as it is hard to imagine how one can create policy for long-term (perhaps never-ending) processes for which there is no quick fix.