Chronically Ill in an Emergency: Why Mental Health Matters

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In humanitarian settings, mental ill-health is powerfully inter-connected with other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. Integrating mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) with NCD prevention and care might therefore be useful, both to be more effective, and to require fewer resources. There is, however, a lack of widely accepted guidelines that take this into account, and this course is intended to draw attention to that issue.

Attention to NCDs focused initially on four major disease categories (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer) and four groups of associated risk factors (unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol). Recently, mental ill-health has been considered as the fifth NCD and environmental determinant as the fifth risk factor for NCDs – known as ‘5-by-5’ conditions.

The course has a threefold aim: i) to explore evidence of interaction between mental ill-health and other NCDs and the role of psychosocial support in humanitarian response; ii) to explore what is being done and where; what level the determinants of health are being addressed at and the integration of mental health and psychosocial support or MHPSS and NCD prevention and care in humanitarian response; and iii) to identify and explore challenges, opportunities and lessons learned for integrating MHPSS and NCD prevention and care in humanitarian response.

The MOOC will be led by a course leader from the University of Copenhagen in close collaboration with academic teachers, the Danish Red Cross and IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, Copenhagen, Denmark.