Welcome to the Discussion Room for MHPSS in Asia and the Pacific

This room aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences, lessons learned, and good practices on integrating MHPSS into peacebuilding in the Asia & Pacific region.

The room is open for any input you may want to share but to start the conversation it has been framed around two main themes with guiding questions. You can respond to one/more/none of these in your contributions, but please indicate on which of the themes/questions below you are sharing your insights. Kindly note that content translation is available on the top-right corner of the page, where you can choose among 100+ languages.

In your responses, please introduce yourself and tell us whether you have a self-care regime or whether your organization provides staff care to ensure your wellbeing. 

We propose the following guiding questions:

Theme 1: Your experiences 

  1. How do you/your projects integrate/partner/collaborate with the other field?
  2. What have been your successes and/or challenges in linking your work with the other field?
  3. What context/regionally specific elements are you considering and including in your programming on linking MHPSS and Peacebuilding?

Theme 2: Enhancing integration

  1. What resources would your organisation need to be better able to work in a way that integrates MHPSS into peacebuilding?
  2. What are the regional and/or cultural considerations that need to be kept in mind when integrating MHPSS into peacebuilding?
  3. What recommendations would you like to make to UNDP regarding the integration of MHPSS into peacebuilding?

Disclaimer: Please note that the room will be open from 11 October to 9 November 2021. Access of UNDP externals to the rooms is based on pre-registration only.

Comments (8)

Friederike Bubenzer Moderator

Good morning friends around the world-we are delighted that you are interested in joining this online platform and would love to hear your thoughts on how to better link the fields of MHPSS and peacebuilding-all your comments are very (very) welcome.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Yvonne Sliep Moderator

Good afternoon everyone. Please share your resources and ideas on the platform before and after our meetings, This is a place for connecting and networking. 

Catalina Uribe Burcher

Hi! So happy to connect and take part in this important discussion. In my experience mental health and psychosocial support for those implementing peacebuilding work is paramount but often neglected. 

My experience integrating this work dates back to previous experiences (outside of the UN) in Latin America, particularly Colombia in a project providing reparations for victims of the armed conflict. There, it was clear that for the people involved in the project, whether we were talking about lawyers, phycologists or social workers, the daily-exposure to these experiences was taking a slow but clear toll on their mental health (I knew that that was the case for myself).

With the help of people who had previously set up similar "support to supporters" programmes (with organizations like Doctors without Borders), we built an internal service with both individual cases (like access to a psychologist) and group activities. The latter proved to be quite key since it was mostly our colleagues who could relate and share the experiences we were having while doing this type of work.

I think what was key there was the possibility to keep the offer "open", such that people could access the type of services that better suited them. It wasn't too resource heavy though, but it did require some thinking and internal discussion to see what would better fit our particular group (in terms of our distinct profiles, the type of beneficiaries we were mostly working with, the type of MHPSS they were most opened to using, etc.).  

Friederike Bubenzer Moderator

Hi Catalina Uribe Burcher 

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. This topic keeps coming up; it is clearly something that needs to be addressed more. Can you tell us more about the group activities and what they entailed? Also, do you know if the available services were actually taken up by people? This is something that has also come up alot-that the services exit but are not taken up because of stigma/fear etc. 

Also, if you know of 'support for supporters' programmes that you think are effective, please share your insights. 

Catalina Uribe Burcher

Hi Frederike,

Thanks for following up on this. Yes, the group activities were varied. The individual activities focused mostly on access to an individual psychologist and then a plan designed by the person together with the psychologist. Then the group activities included joint exercises on trust, communication, etc., group discussions, etc.

On the second question, yes, the services were certainly used by staff members. I know I myself used it and in team (I supervised a group of eight, plus some consultants and interns) most of them engaged in at least one of the activities. Perhaps this group was a bit special since we all worked with victims and were very sensitized on the importance of mental health, but there was no fear or stigma but the opposite: there was clear demand for these services. I can send you an email with the contact details of the person who design this 'support for supporters' programme in case that may be useful. 

Katja Vauhkonen

Hey! Looking forward the workshop today and to be able to join this process! I am working in a project supporting peace process in Myanmar. Unfortunately my Burmese colleagues could not join the session today, but I hope to be able to meet with them in coming days and bring their knowledge and experiences to this platform as well. 

My other experience from the region comes from Nepal, where I have worked on gender and social inclusion and gender-based violence. I have also some experience in working on peer support for conflict related sexual violence.

In the guidance note that was shared with us there were couple of things that resonated for me. First one is related to intersectional approach - that we understand how people's experiences of conflict are affected by their gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, social class, sexual identity etc. Often social capital is included in this list, thus it was interesting to read about social capital framework in the guidance note.

Another thing that I reflected is related to gender role expectations in relation to conflict and peacebuilding. In recent years there has been call to address role of men and boys as well as masculinity norms, for example in institutional approaches such as Agenda 1325 on women, peace and security. These considerations are relevant in themes of MHPSS and PB as well. For example, Naujoks and Ko argue that "PSS should include creating a safe atmosphere where all genders can freely discuss fear and concerns, and rebuild negative self images (such as conflict victim or IDP) into positive ones (active citizen, community leader, caring father or teacher)". This quote is from an excellent read that I can recommend: Behind the masks. Masculinities, gender, peace and security in Myanmar (International Alert, 2018).

Timothy Hudson David Culasino Carandang

Good day! I'm Timothy Carandang, and underboard doctor in the Philippines currently working as an evidence reviewer for our local COVID clinical practice guidelines and a member of the Planetary Health Philippines.

From my experience in counseling patients and the culture here in the Philippines, it will be helpful to strengthen manpower by conducting psychological first aid courses, especially online, with certifications to ensure wide participation of potential counselors and responders. Primarily, I see religious leaders as key players in counseling. With proper training, together with other church members and leaders, mental health support could be more intergrated in conflict affected areas and therefore help in peacebuilding.

Thank you for this opportunity to share.

Rita Angelini

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for your contributions so far. We are glad to inform you that the closure of the room has been extended to 9 November, in order to allow your widest participation possible.

As such, we encourage you to continue sharing your regional perspectives and experiences, and involve other colleagues if possible.



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