Many mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programming and policies exist to address the social and emotional repercussions of disaster, conflict, and forced migration. Yet, older people and people with disabilities still have limited access to wellness-promoting interventions in humanitarian settings. Historically, they have either been neglected in humanitarian response or have been treated as passive recipients of specialized services. There is currently limited evidence for how to enhance inclusion and decision-making of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian MHPSS research, practice, and policy.
We propose to co-develop and test a methodologically flexible, interactive MHPSS toolkit in partnership with older refugees and refugees with disabilities as co-researchers using a participatory action research (PAR) approach. Humanitarian actors rely on evidence to guide decision-making. Yet, older people and people with disabilities can be difficult to reach during assessment and evaluation data collection. Moreover, there is limited advice on how to ethically engage these diverse and marginalised groups in data collection. The toolkit – tentatively called “HESHIMA: A Guide to Collaborative and Inclusive Health Research in Humanitarian Settings” will address these challenges by providing guidance on research ethics, building partnerships with older people and people with disabilities, adaptation of recruitment, data collection and dissemination strategies to enhance inclusion. Importantly, this strategy has the potential to address both MPHSS research processes and outcomes, equipping humanitarian actors, older people, and people with disabilities with evidence to advocate for lasting solutions. “‘Heshima’ is Kiswahili for ‘respect’ or ‘dignity,’ and we seek to promote these through our toolkit. Indeed, as an acronym, HESHIMA is our anchoring keystone for inclusion and equity: Honouring Experiences and Shared Humanity in Mobilising for Action.”
We anticipate the following primary outcomes from this project:
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