Queen Margaret University Initiative Providing Support for Nepal Earthquake Victims

By Press Office

Edinburgh, 29 April 2015; The Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD) at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh is providing support for victims of the Nepal earthquake which has claimed the lives of nearly 3800 people so far.

 IIHD is involved through the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS.net), QMU's online facility which promotes better mental health and community support in humanitarian emergencies.

MHPSS.net has set up a Nepal 2015 Earthquake Response Group to allow people and organisations to share resources, build knowledge and develop the skills required to respond to the impact of conflict, disaster and chronic adversity. Individuals and families suffer enormous emotional and social consequences, as well as material ones, from exposure to such large scale disasters.

In the hours and days immediately after a disaster many people are disorientated, confused and quick to panic. MHPSS.net has already made available 'Psychological First Aid' materials in Nepali to enable local professionals and international aid workers to protect, bring comfort and stability to people in the middle of the earthquake affected area. Over time, communities in Nepal will gradually learn of the extent of their losses, endure multiple bereavements and disruption. They will need to reshape their emotional and social - as well as material - worlds in order to restore their lives.

"As well as practical assistance to provide food and shelter for those who have either lost their homes, or are too afraid to go back to them, the importance of psychosocial support that help survivors to cope and rebuild their communities should not be underestimated,' said Dr Alison Strang of IIHD. "The MHPSS network allows those with expertise in humanitarian disasters and emergencies to immediately share what they have learned in very specific circumstances for the benefit of those providing emergency response on the ground in Nepal."

By building a global community of practice amongst mental health and psychosocial support professionals, MHPSS.net strengthens local community resilience. Already locals and international humanitarian practitioners are members of the network, and are using the online facility to be in touch and work together to help those affected by this disaster.

MHPSS.net was able to play a central role in supporting the response to the Typhoon Haiyan response in the Philippines. Now, through MHPSS.net, Filipino professionals are providing direct advice and support to colleagues in Nepal.

Notes to Editor

For information contact Maggie Wright on 07801 710360

The MHPSS Network ( mhpss.net/ ) is a growing global platform for connecting people, networks and organizations, for sharing resources and for building knowledge related to mental health and psychosocial support both in emergency settings and in situations of chronic hardship. It aspires to building and shaping good practice in support of people affected by difficult events or circumstances.

Dr Alison Strang, IIHD Senior Research Fellow at QMU, is a psychologist involved in applied research concerning the psychosocial consequences of conflict and disaster and the humanitarian response to health provision, education and community development. Alison has worked with communities affected by conflict and disaster in the Balkans, Middle East and South Asia. She brought together an international team to set up and lead the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network.

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