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Mental health and psychosocial support in emergency relief and development

In fragile and conflict-affected areas, physical and psychosocial recovery should go hand in hand.

Most people we work with have been exposed to crises affecting their lives in different ways. The psychological distress caused by collective trauma, destroyed livelihoods, ambiguous loss, and continuing impunity affects day-to-day functioning.

The trauma can also lead to an increase in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and hinder the restoration of the social fabric needed to escape fragility. The COVID-19 pandemic caused additional stressors making it even harder for many people to cope with already challenging situations.

Access to mental health and psychosocial support services

Since 2017, Cordaid has been supporting people in crisis areas by addressing their psychological suffering through facilitating access to mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS). This includes creating safe spaces, counselling, recreational and vocational activities, and awareness sessions.

Through our MHPSS activities with individuals, families, and communities we aim to address the psycho-social impact of conflict and create leverage to restore the social fabric and promote justice, peace, and stability.


Cordaid is well-positioned to play an important role in bridging gaps by providing mental health and psychosocial support services in a holistic, context-specific manner. We focus on addressing collective trauma by integrating MHPSS as a cross-cutting issue in Cordaid’s thematic areas, such as access to justice, youth, humanitarian aid, care for frontline workers, and gender-based violence.

Community-based MHPSS interventions combined with specialised support enable Cordaid and our local partners to provide complementary services that empower communities to recover, regain resilience and perspective, and restore the social fabric.

Watch this emotional video about Sonita Khalil, a social worker from Sinjar, Iraq. When ISIS attacked and occupied Sinjar in 2014, they kidnapped, raped and killed thousands of Yazidis. In 2019 Sonita worked for a mental health programme in Seje, near the city of Duhok.

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Our track record

Cordaid’s MHPSS track record has grown significantly in the past years. Building on past and current activities, we are constantly expanding our needs-driven work on MHPSS. We work in a variety of countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our target groups include people in fragile settings, oppressed minorities, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, primary health care patients, adolescents and youth, IDPs, refugees, returnees, host communities, and frontline staff engaged in Cordaid’s programmes.