European National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies working together in Psychological Support


Annual Forum Innsbruck 17. - 19. September 2004

The Secretariat of the Red Cross/Red Crescent European Network for Psychological Support (ENPS), held in the French Red Cross and a working group made up of the Austrian, British, Danish and Swiss National Societies, organised a 2 day forum for the 52 European RC/RC National Societies.

The forum with the title of “Working Together in Psychological Support: Towards an Integrated, Humanitarian Approach” was held in Innsbruck University. 20 National Societies attended, including a representative of the Psychological Support International Reference Centre held within the Danish Red Cross and a representative from the Middle East North African (MENA) Psychological Support Network. Making up the 39 participants also, were members of the IFRC central European delegation, a consultant used by the ICRC and several partner universities.



The two day programme developed four themes:
1. The needs of the European community in psychological support
2. The specificity of the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement in this domain
3. The integration of psychological support (PS) activities within National Societies
4. PS training and support for volunteers, staff and the general public

1. Presentations within European needs covered: the EU/RC project lead by the British RC, the Spanish RC response to the March 2004 bombing, psychological support within the human trafficking programme and the community-based psychological support programme undertaken by the Turkish RC. Workshop conclusions and recommendations are cited in the final document.** PS needs cover a wide range of activities being an integral part not only of disaster response but health and social programs.

2. Within this theme: the specificity of the RC/RC movement in the domain of Psychological Support, participants followed presentations on the structure of PS in the Red Cross. The Movement has an international Reference Centre within the Danish RC as well as regional networks. We noted that all the PS networks (such as the ENPS and MENA) keep a close contact with the Federation Reference Centre for PS. Other presentations examined such subjects as the development of PS from the framework of the RC/RC movement principals, the co-ordination of PS in an international setting and an example of PS within an outpatient setting for traumatised refugees.

3. Now that PS is accepted as an integral part of RC/RC activities, the presentations in this afternoon session dealt with methods and examples of integration from a National Society ( Danish RC), the Central European task force and within the Middle East North African (MENA) situation.
Time was taken to have a General Assembly of the ENPS and a new steering committee was agreed. This is made up of Austrian, British, Danish, French, Italian, Central European PSP representative and the Swiss RC national societies. A decision was taken to have an annual meeting of all European NS on the subject of PS.

4. It was acknowledged that it is vital to adequately recruit, train and support our helpers, be they volunteers or staff. Presentations and workshops on this theme such as the example of the Austrian RC teams gave points of discussion for the workshops. Participants were especially interested in exchanging training ideas and developments.


(a) That we continue to push the integration of psychological support in all Red Cross/Red Crescent activities

(b) That we develop assessment and evaluation tools for PS (psychological support)

(c)That we continue to emphasis participatory, community-based assessment in PS whilst respecting cultural diversity. That we emphasise high standards and not standardisation.

(d)That we aim to develop PS activities as a result of need assessment and not due to available funding.

(e) That the specificity of the ENPS be:

  • an experienced network working from Red Cross principles and working in collaboration within and without the RC movement
  • a global approach (that is using the WHO definition of health*)
  • local (using a community approach and taking into account cultural diversity),
  • psycho-social

(f) That it is important to assess needs before designing training modules or programmes with PS aspects (g) That all volunteers and staff benefit from PS training and PS support when necessary (h) Within the European RC/RC Network for PS:


  • we wish to raise the profile of the RC/RC contribution to PS
  • we wish to increase management support in our National Societies in order to promote integration, funding and exchange in PS and support of ENPS (European RC/RC Network for Psychological Support)
  • we wish to formulate a data base for the ENPS to include: training, volunteer selection, assessment and evaluation tools, innovative programmes, etc
  • we wish to organise yearly meetings to increase reflection, exchange and cohesion of the European network. This task to be undertaken by the ENPS steering committee


Participation was maximal in the forum. Many participants either gave presentations or took turns to facilitate workshops. An atmosphere of respect for others and their cultural diversity reigned. Several participants were active in translation for others.
This excellent participation allowed for an active exchange and development of reflection of our activities, methods and future projects. Despite a rich, intense programme, all involved were able to make contacts and reflect together. It was an enjoyable and enriching experience.

** the final document can be obtained by contacting Maureen Mooney Secretariat ENPS: Maureen.mooney(at)

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