WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-29

Post-disaster mental health and psychosocial support: Experience from the 2015 Nepal earthquake

1 Patan Mental Hospital, Lagankhel, Lalitpur, Nepal
2 World Health Organization Country Office for Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
3 World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi, India
4 Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Correspondence Address:
Kedar Marahatta
World Health Organization Country Office for Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal

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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.206160

PMID: 28597855

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On 25 April 2015, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Nepal, which, along with the subsequent aftershocks, killed 8897 people, injured 22 303 and left 2.8 million homeless. Previous efforts to provide services for mental health and psychological support (MHPSS) in humanitarian settings in Nepal have been largely considered inadequate and poorly coordinated. Immediately after the earthquake, the Government of Nepal declared a state of emergency and the health sector started to respond. The immediate response to the earthquake was coordinated following the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster approach. One month after the disaster, integrated MHPSS subclusters were initiated to coordinate the activities of many national and international, governmental and nongovernmental, partners. These activities were largely conducted on an ad-hoc basis, owing to lack of focus on MHPSS in the health sector’s contingency plan for emergencies. The mental health subcluster attempted to implement a mental health response according to World Health Organization and IASC guidelines. The MHPSS response highlighted many strengths and weaknesses of Nepal’s mental health system. This provides an opportunity to “build back better” through reform of mental health services. A strategic response to the lessons of the 2015 earthquake will deliver both improved population mental health and increased preparedness for the future.

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