Mental health integrated disaster preparedness (MHIDP) was inspired by an observation, made by ourselves and our colleagues in Nepal and Haiti, that some community members seemed resistant to engaging in disaster preparedness. Some Nepalis living in areas at high risk from natural hazards such as flooding and landslides seemed uninterested in putting in place even relatively easy disaster risk reduction strategies. Similarly, in makeshift settlements on hillsides in Port-au-Prince, regularly flooded by seasonal hurricanes, some community members did little to try to mitigate impact. This behaviour could not be explained purely by lack of funds or insufficient knowledge; some community members failed to adopt even low-cost or free measures such as developing household emergency action plans or the safe storage of documents. This behaviour is not specific to communities at risk in Nepal or Haiti; rather, studies have shown that households across the world are generally underprepared for disaster.
This paper is part of a special edition of ‘Humanitarian Exchange’, co-edited with Anne Harmer, Manager of Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme, focusing on mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian crises
C. Welton-Mitchell, L. Emily James (2018) Evidence-based mental health integrated disaster preparedness in Nepal and Haiti in Humanitarian Exchange No 72 July 2018, p 11-15. London: Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN) Overseas Development Institute