Sub-Saharan Africa

Community-based Protection and Mental Health & Psychosocial Support

Posted By: • July 21st, 2017


Community-based protection and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) are closely linked and in uence each other. The purpose of this document is to help community-based protection actors and MHPSS practitioners understand the implications of their work for one another’s eld of expertise and how they can together contribute to the wellbeing and protection of people affected by forced displacement.


  • Refugees have assets and resources to support their own mental health and psychosocial well-being and that of their communities.
  • Promoting meaningful engagement of refugees, respecting their dignity and autonomy, and providing them with adequate information, can greatly reduce psychological distress.
  • Community-based protection activities, such as support groups, community centres and safe spaces are a foundation for effective MHPSS.
  • With tailored training and supportive supervision, many MHPSS interventions can be done by refugees who are non-specialists.
  • MHPSS should be seen as a multi-layered system; it is important to strengthen the community-based psychosocial supports in order to make best use of existing resources at community level for many MHPSS problems and to facilitate referrals for various social and clinical mental health services.
  • Community-based protection work that strengthens community ties and structures can contribute to ensuring that clinical mental health services are accessed by those who need it.
  • Community-based MHPSS capitalizes on the strengths of refugees and promotes their resilience, rather than focusing only on deficits (the weaknesses, suffering and pathology).
  • Resilient individuals and communities can better contribute to their own protection and that of others.

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