Home Decolonising mental health interventions in the humanitarian system

Mental health is an increasing concern around the world, but there is a substantial gap between Western and non-Western countries in terms of access to quality mental healthcare. To help close this gap and improve the delivery of mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS), the UN’s 2016 Grand Bargain declared a new approach of prioritising the localisation of these services. This paper examines the effects of the Grand Bargain on the localisation of mental health and psychosocial support services in non-Western countries, as a means to decolonise mental health.

About 42% of the individuals coping with mental illnesses in Western countries receive no formal treatment, while this figure is nearly double in non-Western countries.

This paper outlines the results of an outcome evaluation that measured the funding received by local and national agencies providing MHPSS services in less economically developed countries between 2017 and 2021. The data was gathered from the UN Financing Track System (FTS) and looks at financial contributions over time in six humanitarian sectors: health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); gender-based violence; nutrition; protection, and shelter.

The results show that local and national agencies received only 3% of international donors’ MHPSS-related humanitarian funding. Most localised MHPSS-related funding is driven by country-based pooled funds, with Middle Eastern countries as the primary beneficiaries, and localised MHPSS funding predominantly went to the health, WASH, and protection sectors.

The study finds limited localisation of MHPSS services in less economically developed countries, and a limited focus on community capacity building through associated humanitarian sectors.

Photo credit: A Child Friendly Space in an informal camp in Ethiopia allows children to play, learn and access psychosocial support. © Sacha Myers / Save the Children

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