What is psychosocial support?
Why we do it
Psychological policy
About PS Centre
Emergency Response Unit (ERU) materials
Quarterly magazine
News and events
Support us
Contact us


"Psychosocial support is an approach to victims of violence or natural disasters to foster resilience of both communities and individuals. It aims at easing resumption of normalcy and to prevent pathological consequences of potentially traumatic situations".

The term ‘psychosocial’ refers to the close relationship between the individual and the collective aspects of any social entity. They mutually influence each other. The ‘psychological’ effects are caused by a range of experiences that affect the emotions, behaviour, thoughts, memory and learning capacity of an individual. To a large extent, the psychological effects depend on the way in which these events are perceived and given meaning by the individual.

Social effects are the shared experiences of disruptive events that affect the relations between people – not only as a result of the events but also of death, separation and sense of loss. It also includes an economic and political dimension, since many people suffer multiple consequences of, for example, disasters or armed conflicts.

Photo: Heine Pedersen/Danish RC


A large number of documents can be referred to in relation to psychosocial support methods and practices. Many of these are available through our document database. However, a few key documents guide our work. These include:

International Federation psychological spport policy (2003)
IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
SPHERE: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response
Second edition of The Johns Hopkins and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Public Health Guide for Emergencies
Mental and Social Aspects of Health of Populations Exposed to Extreme Stressors
Psychological policy
International Federation policy, approved in 2003.
Click here to view document
MHPSS guidelines (2007)
Click here to view document
Minimum standards in disaster response (2004)
Click here to view document
John Hopkins
Public Health Guide for Emergencies (2008)
Click here to view document
Mental health in Emergencies
Mental and social aspects of health of populations exposed to extreme stressors (WHO, 2003)
Click here to view document

INEE - Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction (2004)