June 19, 2024



Mental health problems are common and cause great suffering to individuals and communities around the world. They have a significant impact not only on the physical and mental health of those affected but also on their families and the communities they live in. At the same time, all communities have their own traditional mechanisms for support and contain a range wide of resources that can be helpful in preventing mental health conditions from developing, promoting positive mental health and supporting the recovery of people that are struggling with a mental health condition.

In the wider context, people living with a mental health condition are often excluded from their communities and experience various violations to their basic human rights (discrimination, violence, exclusion from employment opportunities). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the mean prevalence of global mental health disorders is 10.8% while the prevalence in emergency settings is 22.1% in any conflict-affected population.

During emergencies and crisis, the stigma, exclusion and discrimination towards people living with mental health conditions is often higher, which can cause isolation and protection issues. Communities can play a crucial role in promoting mental health as well as enhancing primary care and access. Their role is to help reduce mental health inequalities by providing community resources that connect people to community-based resources and by providing mental health education. This also helps to reduce the massive mental health treatment gap.

From 2021, the IFRC Psychosocial Centre has been increasing its focus on mental health care and especially on community-based mental health care approaches including psychological interventions as part of a wider piece of work on Care in Communities – IFRC Guidelines for National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies: A community health IFRC_CIC_Guidelines_EN_20200212_ Web.pdf

This training manual provides guidance to programme managers and community providers on how to build the capacities of community health workers and volunteers by promoting and addressing mental health needs in their communities. With this training guide, the IFRC Psychosocial Reference Centre intends to promote the expansion across the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement of community mental health care services that go beyond primary health-care settings.


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