This course provides the basic skills for designing development and humanitarian programs that support psychosocial well-being and do no harm. It is designed for practitioners who already have a basic understanding of the project cycle, and have worked, or are working, with vulnerable populations in low-resource or crisis environments.

Please note this course does not offer a certificate upon completion.

Refugee tent at a camp.
Refugee tent at a camp. Photo: Pexels/CC

Course Overview

This e-learning course aims to build the capacity of international development and humanitarian aid practitioners to design projects and programs so they are appropriately responsive to psycho-social/mental health needs and in turn contribute to improving outcomes for project participants. Specifically, the course aims to equip participants with the following knowledge and skills:


Chapter 1: Introduction, Rationale, and Key Concepts

This chapter introduces key concepts in mental health and psychosocial support, and gives an overview of the impacts of stress and adversity on the individual and collective levels, and presents a framework for understanding different levels of intervention in emergency and crisis settings. Finally, we cover basic ethical principles to ensure your program does no harm.

Chapter 2: MHPSS Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Because psychosocial well-being is highly context-specific, it is important to know how people conceptualize well-being in your project area. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to conduct rigorous assessments of psychosocial needs and existing coping resources, and how to set up monitoring and evaluation systems to measure changes in psychosocial well-being.

Chapter 3: Components of Integrated Psychosocial Interventions in Development and Humanitarian Programming

This chapter guides participants in designing projects that are sensitive to psychosocial needs, and/or that directly work to enhance psychosocial well-being at the individual, family and community levels. This chapter helps you see how your project fits into a broader framework of support, and guides you in knowing how and when to refer people to more specialized services. Finally, it offers guidance for staffing and supervision at the different levels.

Related Publications

Keeping Peacebuilding Education Alive During A Difficult Year

Keeping Peacebuilding Education Alive During A Difficult Year

Monday, June 7, 2021

By: Allison Sturma

In April, more than 400 U.S. high school students, representing 85 schools in 26 states, joined a Zoom call for what normally would be an in-person Academic WorldQuest — a quiz competition sponsored in part by USIP that’s dedicated to foreign policy, international issues, global conflict management and peacebuilding. Following the cancellation of the national competition in April 2020, there was uncertainty about what WorldQuest would look like going into 2021. While some deferred participation, others saw it as an exercise in seeing what was possible: In-person competitions were hoped for, but local groups experimented with virtual platforms; teachers figured out how to recruit teams and organize remote study sessions; and students made room for extra learning in shifting schedules. 

Type: Blog

Education & Training

Amid Pandemic, Virtual Peace Trail Demonstrates U.S. Commitment to Peace

Amid Pandemic, Virtual Peace Trail Demonstrates U.S. Commitment to Peace

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

By: Ann-Louise Colgan; Ellie Quinlan

The last year was marked by disruption, with schools shuttered, workplaces closed and so many aspects of daily life altered by the pandemic. While COVID drastically reduced the number of tourists to the capital, too, that did not stop USIP from bringing Washington, D.C. to Americans through virtual options for visiting and experiencing the Peace Trail on the National Mall. The Peace Trail brings a “peace lens” to the experience of visiting the National Mall — elevating stories of key figures, institutions and moments in history that demonstrate America’s commitment to peace.

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Education & Training

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