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Principles for designing and delivering psychosocial and mental healthcare
  1. Richard Williams1 and
  2. V Kemp2
  1. 1 Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales, UK
  2. 2 Health Planning Ltd, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Richard Williams, Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales CF 37 1DL, UK; richard.williams{at}


The development of the UK’s military policy includes the potential for military organisations to deploy in support of humanitarian aid operations. This paper offers an overview of the risks to people’s mental health of their exposure to emergencies, major incidents, disasters, terrorism, displacement, postconflict environments in which humanitarian aid is delivered, and deployments to conflict zones. It summarises the psychosocial approach recommended by many contemporary researchers and practitioners. It differentiates the extremely common experience of distress from the mental disorders that people who are affected may develop and introduces the construct of psychosocial resilience. The authors recognise the importance of trajectories of response in separating people who are distressed and require psychosocial care from those who require mental healthcare. Finally, this paper summarises a strategic approach to designing, planning and providing psychosocial and mental healthcare, provides a model of care and outlines the principles for early psychosocial interventions that do not require training in mental healthcare to deliver them.

  • psychosocial care
  • mental healthcare
  • distress
  • psychosocial resilience
  • trajectories of response
  • psychological first aid

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  • Contributor I am one author signing on behalf of all co-owners of the contribution.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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