Bridgetown, July 9. - Addressing mental health and psychosocial support is a priority in disaster preparedness efforts both at the regional and national levels. As the Caribbean Region prepares for possible impacts from the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, a four-day training of trainers was organized by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Mental Health and Substance Use Unit, with financial contribution from PAHO’s Subregional Program Coordination and Health Emergency Department, as well as Public Health England.

The specific objectives of the training were to strengthen the competencies of mental health experts to assess the countries’ mental health needs during and after humanitarian emergencies and to establish a Caribbean Roster of mental health professionals who are competent in needs assessment and the development of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) strategies for mobilization to affected Caribbean countries in the aftermath of a disaster.

The training focused on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support and some of the tools recommended by the guideline as part of the intervention pyramid. Main facilitators for this training were: Dr. Capucine de Fouchier, WHO consultant, and Dr. Claudina Cayetano, PAHO/WHO Regional Advisor on Mental Health.  

This training is part of a joint project by PAHO and the Caribbean Development Bank, entitled “Building individual and social resilience to cope with the impacts of natural hazard events: enhancing capacity for mental health and psychosocial support in disaster management in the Caribbean”.