Mitigating psychological impacts of crisis response
Making the most of practical experiences gained during past crises or disasters for improving mental health and psychosocial support in radiation emergencies

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO), organised two interconnected web-based conferences to explore how the experience and lessons from non-nuclear crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, could help countries to improve Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the event of a nuclear or radiological or nuclear emergency.

During these web events, held on 26 June and 10 July 2020, invited international experts shared their respective experiences, research findings and views on two main issues: 1) Mitigation of psychological impacts; and 2) Community engagement and resilience throughout the entire emergency cycle, from preparedness and response to recovery.

The main findings from these two events are summarized here.


Web-event #1 : “Mitigating psychological impacts of crisis response” ; 26 June 2020, 14:00 – 15:45 Paris time


14:00 – 14:05: Welcome and introduction of the webinars

By Ted Lazo, Deputy Head of Division of Radiation Protection and Human Safety Aspects, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, Boulogne-Billancourt


14:05 – 14:10: “Setting the scene of the CRPPH Expert Group on Non-Radiological Public Health Aspects of Radiation Emergency Planning and Response and expectations from the discussion”

By Matthias Zähringer, EGNR Chair, BfS, Germany


14:10- 14:25: “Lessons learned from mental health and psychosocial response aspects in a global public health emergency”

By Fahmy Hanna, Co-Chair IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, WHO Geneva.


14:25-14-40: “The new framework and policy from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Consequences of Armed Conflicts, Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies”

By Dick Clomén, Project Manager, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Project addressing Mental Health Consequences of Armed Conflicts, Natural Disasters and Emergencies


14:40-14:55: “Non-radiological health effects of sheltering, evacuation and temporary relocation: literature findings on psychological effects”

By Samantha J. Watson, Senior Radiation Protection Scientist, Public Health England, UK


14:55-15:10: “The philosophical issue of justification of protective actions- are we doing more harm than good?”

By Patricia Milligan, Senior technical advisor for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, USA


15:10 – 15:40: Discussion with the panelists moderated by Christiane Pölzl-Viol, EGNR member (BfS, Germany)

Wolfgang Weiss (Emergency advisory Board of the German Commission on Radiological Protection - SSK) joined the four invited speakers and the EGNR chair for the panel discussion.

  • Are there lessons learned from public health measures during Covid-19 crisis that can be transferred to knowledge for preparedness?
  • What lessons can we learn from Covid-19 crisis, from natural disasters, from Chernobyl-Fukushima NPP accident regarding the preparation phase?


15:40-15:45 : Concluding remarks by Matthias Zähringer, EGNR Chair