It is evident that a strong protection response has

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It is evident that a strong protection response has the potential to improve mental health and psychosocial well-being amongst individuals, households, and communities. MHPSS activities are unlikely to be effective in a context where key protection concerns are not addressed. As such, UNHCR’s core protection activities are a way in which UNHCR currently works to prevent mental health and psychosocial problems, and improves mental health and psychosocial well-being. The survey conducted for this evaluation showed a high level of reporting of a range of protection activities with linkages to MHPSS activities and outcomes [see Table 8 for selected protection activities]. However, the interconnections between protection and MHPSS approaches are not present within UNHCR policy and language, and interviews conducted for this review revealed a number of obstacles to UNHCR fully maximising the potential for current protection activities to improve response to mental health problems and increasing psychosocial well-being amongst PoC. Table 8: % of respondents reporting selected protection activities. Protection activity % reporting activity Apply an Age, Gender and Diversity perspective to all protection and assistance interventions 91% Training on the psychosocial impacts of human rights violations for staff and officials (can be embedded in other training programs) 41% Local protection groups to improve the communal protection capacity (for example, Protection Working Groups or similar committees). 55% Community-based protection responses (for example, supporting local dispute resolution mechanisms, local support mechanisms for persons most at risk) 56% Activities to increase affected people’s awareness of their rights and their ability to assert these rights 65% Complementary provision of psychosocial support and legal protection support for survivors of human rights violations 51% Services for persons with specific needs 79% One issue that acts to hinder increased integration of MHPSS within protection activities is the definition and conceptualisation of protection within UNHCR. In interviews, UNHCR staff expressed concerns that protection was still conceptualised within UNHCR as primarily, or solely, a legal activity. A broader definition of protection is present in some UNHCR policies, for example, AGDM . 143 However, the concept of social protection – of protection encompassing efforts to improve the overall well-being of Persons of Concern, inclusive of material, social, economic, political, and legal dimensions – is not perceived as fully accepted and integrated throughout UNHCR. The definition of protection adopted and operationalised within UNHCR has important impacts on prioritisation of and support for MHPSS activities. For example, a practitioner interviewed for this review reported not being able to convince UNHCR staff to support a psychosocial program she was implementing as UNHCR staff stated, “that it not our mandate, our mandate is protection.” 144 There are concrete ways in which protection activities and MHPSS activities overlap. In some
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  • Fall '19
  • Humanitarian aid, psychosocial support

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