Ensuring equity in mental health and psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

MHPSS Implementation Science Learning Collaborative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Populations affected by armed conflict and other humanitarian crises are at elevated risk for mental health problems. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had broadly deleterious effects on livelihoods, economic well-being, and population health worldwide, vulnerable groups have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Providing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services during these times to vulnerable groups, especially in low- and middle-income countries and humanitarian settings, is essential. In an effort to comply with the public health response to the pandemic and mitigate COVID-19 transmission, significant implementation adaptations were made to service delivery during the pandemic. This short report describes several strategies to ensure that equity was central to these adaptations and public health responses, and provides recommendations for ensuring continuity of this progress post-pandemic. Examples and key lessons learned are given related to strategies to increase access to MHPSS services, improve meaningful stakeholder engagement, develop and support community networks, and implement community-based psychosocial support groups. They come from diverse settings of Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, and Lebanon. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preventing and treating MHPSS issues. It also has created opportunities for innovative programming to address overlooked problems, improve the quality of services provided, and increase focus on equity. It is vital that we use the momentum and attention generated around MHPSS services during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to build and improve existing MHPSS services in more equitable ways for vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalConflict and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptations
  • COVID-19
  • Disparities
  • Equity
  • Humanitarian
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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