The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS) Vanuatu’s Cyclone Response 2015

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On 14th March, Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu , an Oceanian island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. At least 7 people are known to have lost their lives in the archipelago nation according to the Vanuatu Government; however, United Nations officials state that 16 were killed.The storm’s impacts were also felt, albeit to a lesser extent, to other islands in the South Pacific, most notably the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and New Zealand. According to UNICEF, at least 132,000 people have been impacted by Tropical Cyclone Pam, of whom 54,000 are children. Communication across the country was crippled, with only one cellular tower in Port Vila remaining operational. The power grid was devastated as well and officials estimated repairs could take weeks. Four days after the storm, nearly 60 of the nation’s inhabited islands remained cut-off from the outside world. UNICEF has estimated that up to 90 percent of the buildings in Vanuatu have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam. Hospitals, schools and water supply are either compromised or destroyed.

A week after the disaster, The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS), a QMU-based network launched in January 2010 and  co-founded by Senior Research Fellow at IIHD  Dr Alison Strang, set up its  Vanuatu’s Cyclone Response 2015 Group, for  those working on the MHPSS emergency response to Tropical Cyclone Pam which hit Vanuatu: .

This QMU-based network promotes better mental health and community support in humanitarian emergencies via an online platform that allows people and organisations to share resources, build knowledge and develop the skills required to respond to the  impact of conflict, disaster and chronic adversity. Individuals, families and entire communities suffer serious emotional and social consequences from exposure to conflict, and disaster. In such humanitarian settings, it is a priority to improve the psychosocial well-being of children and adults and to address serious mental health problems. However it is  often difficult for practitioners and policy-makers responding to crises on the ground to have access to the best resources and advice from their peers or researchers in other parts of the world. This is what the MHPSS Network does, by providing a platform for colleagues to meet online, engage in discussion through interest groups, and exchange technical resources through a digital library.

If you work in this field, you can join and share on: . Please share resources, situation reports, assessment reports, coordination updates and agency contact details in this group. images7RH61EYT

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