Psychosocial and behavioral aspects of populations affected by humanitarian emergencies: recent developments

Author(s): Rangaswamy Srinivasa MURTHY


Purpose of review

Understand recent developments in psychosocial and behavioral aspects of populations affected by humanitarian emergencies. The review covers the prevalence, longitudinal course, risk factors, posttraumatic growth, biological basis and interventions to address the needs.

Recent findings

Populations living in humanitarian emergencies, over 50 million worldwide, have higher risk of developing a range of mental disorders. There is evidence of persistence of these disturbances over long periods of time. There is growing body of knowledge to indicate the biological pathways to the occurrence of mental disorders. A proportion of population report posttraumatic growth. There is new focus on identifying the characteristics of risk factors, resilience at the individual, family, community and societal levels. Range of interventions to address the mental health needs is in use from strengthening the coping of individuals, parenting, school-based interventions and use of cognitive behavior therapy. Biological basis is becoming clear.


The most important message of the review is the high mental health needs of individuals living in emergency situations and the urgent need to work toward adequate preparedness for natural disasters, integrate psychosocial interventions as part of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction and work toward preventing situations of conflict, war, migration and refugee situations.

Keywords: emergencies; posttraumatic growth; refugees; resilience; risk factors

Tags: Refugees, Humanitarian emergencies, Risk factors, Mental disorders, Resilience, Posttraumatic growth

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