Examining interorganizational roles in Philippine post-disaster MHPSS recovery
The purpose of this paper is to provide empirical grounding on the management of inter-organizational roles in the delivery of mental health and psychosocial services (MHPSS) through the experiences of three disaster-stricken localities. It describes challenges in the provision of MHPSS, and offered implications to post-disaster management practices in a developing country context.
In total, 28 individual interviews and four focus group discussions were conducted among key informants in the three localities that experienced destructive typhoons. Thematic analysis, following the procedures of Braun and Clarke (2006), was used to examine patterns in the data.
The results surfaced disparate perspectives in the role and scope of MHPSS, lack of clarity in inter-organizational roles and service standards as well as contextual challenges in post-disaster MHPSS delivery. Specific issues pertaining to the absence of inter-organizational role clarity in MHPSS post-disaster response include varying perspectives on the role of local government employees as survivors and MHPSS providers; local government as facilitator of MHPSS efforts; the Department of Health as the lead agency for MHPSS; and standards on who can deliver MHPSS and train MHPSS responders.
The study is based on community accounts of MHPSS delivery during disasters. Future studies may focus on capturing longitudinal data that can further refine and enable the institutionalization of effective and sustainable MHPSS response.
The results suggest the importance of improving systems and structures for MHPSS response to enable effective multi-organization support in disaster scenarios. Findings also highlight the need to have guidelines anchored on international standards of MHPSS delivery that will be used by the designated agency leading and advocating MHPSS efforts. This lead agency may be tasked to operationally define MHPSS in a disaster context, develop guideposts and standards in MHPSS delivery as well as clarify roles and accountabilities of different organizations.
Existing literature often relied on the analysis of secondary evidence such as expert-driven state or national guidelines. This study provided rich empirical data from key organizational actors involved in MHPSS provision in disaster-stricken communities.