Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.
Man-made and so-called natural hazards can cause significant amounts of destruction impacting the environment, livelihoods, and health of the population as well as their psychological wellbeing. Additionally, environmental factors following a traumatic event include recurring exposure to upsetting reminders of the trauma, additional adverse life events, financial or other losses related to the trauma. Inappropriate social support post-trauma can also impact someone recovering from a hugely traumatic event.
People who are living with disabilities, chronic health conditions, terminal illness, disabilities, loneliness, social exclusion, conflict, discrimination, and displacement are all significantly more likely to require mental health support.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural resource depletion
The development of mental health programmes can be done in ways that promote environmental benefits that in turn promote community wellbeing and individual mental health, or they can be done in ways that do not consider the environment, which may inadvertently exacerbate poor wellbeing and mental health. Failure to consider environmental drivers of community wellbeing and individual mental health could exacerbate harmful environmental practices such as waste dumping, burning, pollution, overuse of natural resources, and destruction of ecosystems.
Include an assessment of environmental determinants of health and environmental drivers of community wellbeing and mental health in the design of mental health programmes. Assess whether there is conflict over natural resources; loss of hope due to lack of viable livelihoods. Identify harmful environmental practices such as waste dumping, burning, pollution, overuse of natural resources, and destruction of ecosystems and trace their connections to wellbeing and mental health. Involve the community in assessing and designing and implementing activities to clean up their environment as part of their wellbeing and mental health support.
There is much evidence of the benefits of green spaces on people’s mental health, including supporting people in recovering from trauma from humanitarian crises.
# of mental health programmes designed that assess and address environmental drivers of wellbeing and mental health
Time, budget, and expertise to assess environmental determinants of health, environmental drivers of community wellbeing, and mental health in the design of mental health programmes.