Copenhagen 2020 Action Plan for Child, Youth and Family MHPSS

In the lead up to the Anniversary Conference, Save the Children Denmark and the MHPSS Collaborative jointly hosted a pre-conference through an online consultative process. Youth advocates and global experts from more than 15 countries and from different perspectives, such as donors, practitioners, advocates and governments came together to examine how we can improve MHSPSS for children and families in crisis. 

Read more about the pre-conference.

The pre-conference took as point of departure recommendations on child, youth and family MHPSS that have been generated by the global MHPSS community over the period of 2018-2020, and articulated further during the Netherlands Ministerial Mental Health Summit in 2019 (see page 39-44 specifically).

Through this process, and consultation with youth champions for MHPSS, a fifth recommendation was added on the meaningful participation of children, adolescents and their families and communities, and accompanying actions were generated for each recommendation.

Firmly root MHPSS within the social ecology of the child

Firmly rooting MHPSS within the social ecology of the child and strengthening the capacity within family and community systems surrounding children and adolescents.

  • Invest in and advocate for cross-sectoral MHPSS programming that is truly inclusive and participatory, firmly rooted in the local community and reflective of unique contextual realities.  
  • tructure funding calls that incentivize and support 'whole family' approaches to child and family mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. 
  • Address social determinants of mental health and the prevention of violence, neglect, and other harmful experiences throughout the life of the child. 

Act early and create mentally healthy environments

The importance of acting early and creating mentally healthy environments for children, from the early years through childhood and adolescence.

  • Support multi-disciplinary team services and interagency coordination – across sectors and based in communities – for early detection, response, and prevention of MHPSS concerns for children and their caregivers. 
  • Scale up innovative approaches and locally adapted delivery systems for MHPSS developed during the Covid-19 pandemic, that acknowledge the centrality of mentally healthy environments within the social ecology of children and caregivers. 
  • Use a developmental approach to consider childhood as a continuum within all programming and response plans. 

Integrate MHPSS across health, protection and educational systems

Ensuring a cross-sectoral approach, mainstreamed and integrated within health, protection and educational systems.

  • Advocate for MHPSS integration across sectors through research on effectiveness and articulating the general benefits to practitioners, donors, organizations, and governments. 
  • Develop a common, accessible, and contextually relevant language for MHPSS across sectors and actors (e.g. health, protection, education).  
  • Adapt the IASC Common MHPSS M&E Framework to be more cross-sectoral and easier for various sectors to use. 

Translate evidence into practice

Translating evidence into practice, including a) how best to optimize the development of children and adolescents in adverse circumstances; b) understanding the factors influencing vulnerability and resilience of children, adolescents and their carers in different contexts; and c) assessing the current state of MHPSS evidence and implementation science in helping to inform quality care.

  • Make engagement in research more accessible to those it will impact, including youth. 
  • Train and build capacity for researchers on how research can influence policy.  
  • Continue to clarify how vulnerability and resilience of children and families are defined and measured, including in evaluating the effectiveness of interventions. 

Enable meaningful youth engagement and participation

Strengthen and provide greater avenues and opportunities for the meaningful engagement and participation of youth, to ensure they are deeply integrated into programs, policies and research in authentic ways. 

  • Decrease asymmetries of power between adults and young people in MHPSS program development, advocacy and research.  
  • Respect the service and expertise of youth in tangible and meaningful ways.  
  • Clearly define the role of youth, and ensure they are not an afterthought. 

The Copenhagen 2020 Action Plan for Child, Youth and Family MHPSS is launched by