Decolonising mental health interventions in the humanitarian system
Keywords:mental health, MHPSS, Grand Bargain, localisation, decolonisation
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.
An outcome evaluation was carried out to measure the amount of funding received by local and national agencies that provide MHPSS services in less economically developed countries. All data was gathered from the UN Financing Track System (FTS) and looked 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 between 2017 and 2021. 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 found limited localisation of MHPSS services in less economically developed countries, and a limited focus on community capacity building through associated humanitarian sectors. Based on this study, it is recommended that humanitarians should advocate for increased localisation and culturally competent practices in the MHPSS space.
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