Led by Minister Sigrid Kaag (Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Coordination), this conference is part of a growing effort to recognise mental health and psychosocial support as a basic need for those suffering in the aftermath of conflict, natural disasters or other crisis events.
Hosted at our monumental building at KIT Royal Tropical Institute, the conference brought together more than 400 mental health experts, policymakers, ministers and donors from across the world. Her Majesty Queen Máxima also lent her support to the cause and joined the conference for the second day’s programme.
The rising need for mental health support in crisis settings
More people than ever before have lost their homes and sense of security because of conflict, violence, poverty, natural disasters and oppression. Many of them do not know whether, or for how long, they’ll still have a roof over their heads. They may have lost family, friends or loved ones, or not know where they are. The psychosocial impact of this is often hidden. And while wars or disasters may end, trauma remains. Helping people to cope with and overcome this psychological trauma requires dedicated resources for mental health and psychosocial support.
Showcasing KIT’s work in mental health and health care in crisis settings
KIT was proud to participate in the conference and support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make mental health support an integral part of humanitarian responses to emergency situations. Mark Schneiders, KIT CEO, kicked-off the conference with welcoming remarks, and advisors from KIT’s global health unit were on hand to showcase some of our organisation’s work to strengthen health systems and improve mental health support in fragile settings.
For example, together with the Netherlands Red Cross and Light for the World, we piloted a new crash course to encourage the use of psychological first aid (PFA). Through scenario-based role play, the course taught conference participants to put PFA into practice and gain valuable experience helping others in need of psychological support. Meanwhile, representatives of the STRENGTHS project – of which KIT is a partner – hosted a marketplace session about the project’s efforts to train Syrian refugees to provide mental health support to fellow refugees.
Perfect match with ambition of KIT
KIT Royal Tropical Institute is committed to hosting more health-related conferences and other events dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to the challenges facing humanity. In addition to the expansive rooms on offer, we have in-house expertise in sustainable development and global health which conference planners can use to help shape and strengthen conference programmes. KIT experts also regularly join conferences as guest speakers – sharing their experiences working in global development. Luckily it does not stop there, and we are increasingly looking to collaborate on a global level with our partners. This way, your conference can have a global impact!