Background: Addressing the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs of people affected by humanitarian disasters is a critical component in any humanitarian aid response (Meyer 2005). In the last decade there has been a call to establish an evidence-base on the effectiveness of MHPSS programmes to address these needs, including the production of systematic reviews.
Objectives: This meta-review aims to identify and summarise existing review-level evidence on the impact of MHPSS interventions for populations affected by humanitarian crises.
Methods: To identify systematic reviews of MHPSS programmes we searched a range of health and social science databases, websites and references of key literature as part of a mixed-methods systematic review project. All systematic reviews evaluating MHPSS interventions reporting descriptions of their review methodology are eligible and will be judged for quality using the AMSTAR tool (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews; Shea 2007). Descriptive mapping to highlight gaps in the evidence-base has been done. A meta-narrative synthesis will be conducted to summarise key contextual findings.
Results: Of the fifteen systematic reviews included in the preliminary findings, four specifically focused on children and young people and one focused more broadly on adults and young people. Three reviews on adult refugees focused on psychological treatment interventions. Five reviewed effectiveness evidence on MHPSS programmes in armed conflicts and political violence settings, while one examined prevention and management strategies to address gender-based violence. A further review examined evidence on the effectiveness of MHPSS for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear events. We found no systematic reviews examining the implementation and delivery of MHPSS interventions in humanitarian settings.
Conclusions: There is limited systematic review-level evidence on the effectiveness of MHPSS for populations affected by natural disasters. The findings of this meta-review can be valuable to policy and practice when planning future research and designing contextually relevant MHPSS interventions.