beginning of the 1990s the Movement became aware of the psychological
suffering caused by disasters. Several transport accidents
and disasters called for national societies to respond to
psychological support needs of victims and their families.
Subsequently in 1991, the Danish Red Cross took the initiative
to organize the first Red Cross and Red Crescent consultation
on meeting the psychological needs resulting from stressful
life events and disasters. As a result the International Federation
developed its Psychological Support Programme (PSP) and established
the International Federation Reference Centre for Psychological
Support. Simultaneously, high intensity convicts were on the
increase, notably in Somalia and the Former Yugoslavia. These
growing pressures pushed the ICRC to tackle psychological
needs of its own staff and gradually those of war victims.
the time this was a true pioneering step for the Movement.
Since the mandate of the International Red Cross and the Red
Crescent Movement is to respond to all aspects of humanitarian
needs, it is absolutely clear that psychological needs have
to be addressed as well. Psychological support must go along
with provision of basic needs such as water and sanitation,
food and shelter. In order to achieve this, new capacities
have to be developed within National Societies and related
training must be provided to Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers.
have come a long way since 1991 when only six National Societies
addressed psychological needs of people in the aftermath of
a disaster. Today, 65 National Red Cross and Red Crescent
societies are actively taking part in the Psychological Support
Programme. Some have extensive psychological relief services.
Others are diligently expanding their existing services to
the long term, our actions in this field will have to tackle
several major challenges. Although much progress has been
made over the last ten years, the context in which we operate
is in perpetual change. As number of victims increase, resources
stagnate. Type and magnitude of needs have become more complex;
victims have expectations as demonstrated by the campaign
"People on war ". We can achieve our own expectations
by adapting to a new understanding of relief assistance, one
which integrates mental health in all aspects of a National
Society 's relief and social services.