CBPS Essentials

Basics of Community-Based Psychosocial Support - "What is CBPS?", "Why CBPS?", and "How to work with CBPS?".

What is CBPS?

Intervention pyramid for mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies (Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2007)

The Community-Based Psychosocial Support (CBPS) approach builds on the own needs, resources and conditions of individuals and communities to handle daily life stressors, especially in crises situations. The approach emphasizes participation of affected people in aid interventions as a central aspect for these to be able to themselves contribute to a better life and rise stronger together. They accomplish this based on their own capacity and capability. In crises situations, needs are more comprehensive than shelter, food and water. The CBPS approach focuses on involving affected populations in decisions and activities that concern their lives, as they themselves know best what needs exist and need to be addressed. Participation also contributes to a meaningful co-existence after people have lost everything. Accordingly, the CBPS approach aims at creating meaningful and lasting changes in local contexts affected by crises.

CBPS is closely linked to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). Accordingly, the illustration of the Intervention Pyramid from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) MHPSS Guidelines that you can see to the right, shows the many things CBPS can be. At the bottom level, CBPS ensures sensitive delivery of physical aid by ensuring that aid respects culture, faith, gender, etc. At community level (level 2) CBPS focuses on strengthening families and the community to be able to care for their people and adjust to the new circumstances. At the focused support level (level 3), we find ways to support groups that might need extra care and attention, such as unaccompanied children or survivors of gender-based violence. Some people will need the specialised care from psychologists or therapists, and we always help them get connected. The top level refers to specialised services, as undertaken by for example psychologists. Since this is a more individualised approach, it is not traditionally included in the CBPS approach. However, within the CBPS approach, an important component is to support referral pathways to specialised services for those in need. 

Why CBPS?

Regions in need of development aid are often prone to humanitarian crises, which tend to become increasingly protracted and prolonged, often as a result of a combination of conflict and extreme poverty. As a result, people are forced to spend longer time in refugee camps before they can return home or to a third country. Not seldom, this is due to conflicts that divide communities and create uncertainty about the future of the affected people. This is why CBPS aims at enabling people to rebuild a hope for the future for themselves and their community by actively working to engage people to ignite a sense of responsibility regarding their own role and contribution to their and others’ wellbeing and creating social structures where everyone’s security and wellbeing is included. 

Mainstreaming CBPS into different sectors is also a cost-effective way to increase the well-being of a community, as opposed to creating separate programmes. Community engagement and participation are keywords in CBPS. Many of the activities can be done by the community members themselves, but sometimes they need some support to get started.

How to work with CBPS?

Participation is a key to bring people together and build security and trust. Participation activities can be about everything from building a well that everyone in a village feels safe to use, starting an income-generating activity for women who are often financially vulnerable, or forming various support groups to help people who have gone through difficulties and suffering, for example survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. CBPS can also include strengthening the capacity of aid organisations to treat crisis affected individuals in a respectful and dignified manner, and to include the local population in the effort from the outset.

The CBPS Tree

The CBPS Tree on the starting page and below, is a visualisation of different areas within the CBPS approach. Each branch has an important role in impacting the wellbeing of both rightsholders and staff. Jointly and supported by each other, this tree visualises that the branches are stronger together in creating wellbeing that can accommodate all dimensions of life, as opposed to each separate branch.

You will find different CBPS branches further explained in other sections on this website.

The CBPS Core Principles

The CBPS Core Principles form the backbone of the CBPS approach. These are: 

  1. Human Rights and Equity
  2. Participation
  3. Do No Harm
  4. Building on Available Resources and Capacities
  5. Integrated Support Systems
  6. Multi-Layered Supports

Find more details on the CBPS Core Principles in the downloadable document below. 

Download the CBPS Core Principles

Follow the link on Training & Learning below to access the E-Learning modules which are an easy way to create and deepen your knowledge about Community-Based Psychosocial Support.