History of the European Network for Psychosocial Support

The European Red Cross Societies Network for Psychosocial Support (ENPS) was established in autumn 2000, following an initiative of the French Red Cross, on the basis of recommendations of the Third International Conference on Psychological Support.


Lyon 2000: Charter of the European Network for Psychological Support (ENPS)



I. Introduction
II. Objectives and Orientations: The missions of the network
III. Organization of the Network
IV. Plan of Action: Methods for European co-operation in psychological support
V. Ressources
VI. Implementation of the Network: Timetable



I. Introduction

"Good health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being" this W.H.O. definition has been universally adopted today.

Humanity, the first of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Movement sets out " (…) to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found (…)."

From these concepts arose the idea of psychological support in the Red Cross Movement which can be defined as: all the means and attitudes which enable a volunteer, professional or non-professional in mental health, to help a person according to his/her psychological needs. This may happen if necessary before, during, after, and/or in combination with prescribed medical-psychological care and/or social support.

Psychological support should be integrated into all Red Cross activities, into all operations according to the principles of "Global Community Health": "treating the wounded, not merely the wound". For many years most of the European Red Cross Societies have been engaged in developing the concept of psychological support which has its obvious place at the crossroads of the three main dimensions in their activities : health - First aid – social welfare. They have set up awareness and training programmes in psychological support for staff and volunteers.

At the same time, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) has increased the initiatives for exchanges, development and promotion of the different psychological support programmes.

At the Third International Conference on Psychological Support (Lyon - Oct. 1998) the following recommendations were drawn up:

  • Respect for cultural differences: definition and adaptation of psychological support according to the country and the culture.

  • Integration of psychological support in the training of all the members of the national Societies. (NS).

  • Help for NS in setting up action and team training programmes adapted to cultural sensitivities.

  • Creation and setting-up of regional psychological support networks.

Today, it can be noted that contacts between the people responsible for psychological support in the European Societies are occasional because they have only taken place during international conferences or in the aftermath of exceptional circumstances.
In order to put these recommendations into practice the European NS have decided to found the “EUROPEAN NETWORK FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT (ENPS)”
The present charter aims at defining the missions and the functioning.

II. Objectives and Orientations: The missions of the network

The ENPS provides a structure on the REGIONAL EUROPEAN LEVEL to implement the recommendations of the International Federation in order to have a coherent policy as well as developmental and promotional tools for psychological support.


1) To take an inventory and share experiences and practices in psychological support in the national European Societies

a) as regards the public and Red Cross volunteers and staff in areas of social welfare, migrants, first aid, disaster preparedness and response.

b) in emergencies and in the areas of day-to-day activities in prevention, the immediate, the post-immediate and the long term.


2) To establish and develop the specificities of psychological support in the Red Cross Movement at the European level:

a) The definition or adaptation to the European level of the different psychological support "models" and the development of a multifactoral approach (medical, social, cultural, ethical, etc) to psychotraumatology and to psychic suffering in general. The conceptualisation of the specific contribution of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Movement to psychological support.

b) The inventory and analysis of the strategies used for training volunteers and staff in psychological support.

c) The definition of the area of prevention as regards psychological support.

d) Special concerns in adapting the PSP to target groups (e.g. refugees, first aid helpers, and minority groups).


3) To set-up a co-operation between the NS, the authorities and the European institutions:

a) on the intra-community level,

b) On the extra-community level: for candidates for membership of the EU and countries of the Mediterranean region or of developing countries. The encouraging of a "natural" get-together of NS (taking into account geographical, cultural, linguistic, historic criteria, etc).

c) Cross-border co-operation (Help convention).

d) The setting-up of bridges between associative partners as well as within research institutions (ESTSS, ALFEST, WHO Europe, etc).

III. Organization of the Network

  • Each member Society will nominate a delegation responsible for representing the Society in all the activities undertaken by the ENPS.
  • The ENPS will appoint a steering committee of 5 members every two years, who, in collaboration with the International Federation for psychological support, will supervise the actions undertaken, to mobilise resources and will encourage the exchange of information between the members.


The duties of the steering committee will be:

  • the administrative management of the ENPS,
  • the keeping of agendas and the setting-up of the programmes for meetings and European events,
  • the follow-up of co-operation programmes,
  • the liaison between the different experts and external partners.


The languages of the ENPS will be the official European languages of the International Federation: English, French, and Spanish.

IV. Plan of Action: Methods for European co-operation in psychological support

In collaboration with the International Federation:


1) The actions of psychological support

Supporting and strengthening of the existing data bank in order to establish an inventory of all the psychological support activities, training, projects and human resources of the European NS,



  • setting-up of an Intranet network for the exchange of information and experience.
  • annual meetings to exchange experience to be held on the initiative of the steering committee in office at the time.
  • setting-up of a European observatory of psychological support practices.

2) Training/Prevention and projects

To enrich the training and prevention programmes thanks to a better knowledge and further development of practices.

Methodological help in needs analysis or the setting-up of psychological support activities.



  • exchange programme of the "European Voluntary Service" type,
  • training seminars on specific themes.
  • drafting of tools, modules, guidelines, etc,
  • co-ordination of requests for co-operation and bilateral conventions,
  • co-ordination of requests for expertise and evaluation,
  • promotion and advocacy within the Movement and towards authorities, media, professionals and scientists.

V. Ressources

Each NS will provide funding for participation in the ENPS (travel costs, lodging, expenses, etc). Other resources remain to be found.

VI. Implementation of the network: Timetable

  • 26th November 2000. During the Lyon seminar there was a unanimous agreement amongst all participants to endorse this founding Charter of the ENPS.
  • Each delegate will ask her/his National Society to validate the ENPS Charter as well as their official participation in the network.
  • The Charter will be sent for validation to the NS who were unable to be present in Lyon in order to ask them to participate in the ENPS.
  • This Charter will be evaluated in 1 years time.

Lyon, November 26th, 2000


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