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Mental Health Psychiatrist Referent – Brussels, Nairobi or Abidjan

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides assistance in more than 70 countries to populations in distress, to victims of natural or manmade disasters and to victims of armed conflicts, without discrimination and irrespective of origin, religion, creed or political affiliation. 

Mental Health Psychiatrist Referent (m/f/x) – Brussels, Nairobi or Abidjan – MSF Belgium


Within MSF the Operational Center Brussels (OCB), the Medical Department provides strategic direction and technical leadership, committing to keeping up to date on innovations in health care. We share the responsibility of the operational choices and the responsiveness, and we are involved in the support of our project teams co-developing context-adapted medical-operational strategies and defining levels of care. The department also does normative work (e.g., developing guidelines, tools), supporting their translation (e.g., trainings, quality improvement, information knowledge management) and enabling operational research and innovative ideas.  

Composed of multiple specialists based across a network of units across the world, we work in close collaboration with operations, other OCB departments, other OCs (Operational Centers) for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) interventions and MSF movement. We also provide technical support to the newest operational entity in MSF, West Africa and Central Africa (WACA).  

MHPSS interventions are a key part of MSF’s integrated responses to humanitarian crises. In 2023 MSF OCB had MHPSS interventions as priority objectives in 62 projects across 33 countries. There are however more locations that integrate MHPSS activities in other activities in OCB and WACA.    

As Mental Health Psychiatrist referent, you support the quality improvement of MSF-OCB projects by Providing technical and programmatic support throughout the whole project cycle (situation analysis, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, supporting the capture of lessons learned) when dealing with mental health components or psychosocial-related issues. 

Reporting to the Medical Technical Manager based in Brussels, you achieve this by working within the MSF OCB Medical Department in close collaboration with headquarters, MHPSS colleagues, and all other stakeholders. The MHPSS team in OCB consists of two full-time advisor positions (a psychologist and a psychiatrist - this position). In addition, investment is underway in regional MH implementation support positions, which are under functional management of the MHPSS advisor team. Both advisors generally share the portfolio of countries among them but keep each other informed to facilitate back-up during absence. As psychiatrist, you will support – beyond your assigned countries/projects – also for specific psychiatry questions coming from the other countries/projects.    


  1. Provide quality and timely support to colleagues, project and country staff concerning the implementation of MHPSS services throughout the entire project cycle, ensuring quality and continuity of care and supporting that activities are based on the best available evidence  

Technical focus:   

  • Respond to technical queries, discuss cases, provide feedback on context adaptation of protocols and other tools to support quality, continuity of care including the use of Telemedicine to ensure that MH activities are based on best available evidence  
  • Provide strategic and technical advice on clinical management with a particular focus on complex cases and severe mental health conditions  
  • Conduct site visits to enhance the quality of mental health and psychosocial interventions and enable prioritization and sustainability of MH activities (30%)  
  • Ensure the technical briefing & debriefing of MH professionals, medical and project coordinators as well as the respective headquarter counterparts  
  • Contribute to the staff development by:   
    • Identifying training needs and facilitating access to remote learning, communities of practice and through trainings, webinars and workshops. This includes one-on-one sessions, joint meetings, and co-facilitation of internal trainings such as MHPSS, Survivors of Violence (including gender-based violence), Health Promotion trainings   
    • Supporting and facilitating mhGAP (mental Health Gap Action Programme) and training to strengthen multi-disciplinary interventions that meet the needs of people with mental health conditions in Primary Health Care (PHC) and community-based health care  
    • Supporting effective information knowledge management  
    • Identifying needs and promotion of relevant external resources and training  
    • Facilitating exchange at project and coordination level to support peer-learning  
  • Support innovation and participate in the development of relevant operational research following the established framework and Support presentation and publication of operational research results  
  • Stay updated on new developments and research in psychiatry and relevance for MSF settings   

Strategic and programmatic focus:  

  • Collaborate with the project and country medical and operational managers, headquarters and medical department referents to provide strategic guidance to projects. Participate in strategic meetings e.g., annual review of operations (ARO)  
  • Provide expert advice regarding MHPSS components of the program: assessment, design, implementation, monitoring of MHPSS services within the project. This includes objectives, population target, and relevant activities  
  • Ensure appropriate choice and use of monitoring and evaluation methodologies at project level  
  • Advise country and project teams on different MHPSS Human resources mobilisation and the potential for task shifting   
  • Support strategies at project, country and international levels through data analysis,  identification of problems or needs and technical advice in terms of proposed solutions  
  • Participate to the active monitoring of mental health projects and their activities through visits, debriefings, report-reading, etc., and regularly share this analysis with the relevant stakeholders  
  1. In cooperation with MHPSS colleagues, co-lead the development and implementation of mental health policy and strategy in MSF-OCB operations  
  • Identify and evaluate new developments (evidence, approaches, techniques and tools), to ensure:  
  • MHPSS policy and strategy are in line with new developments in the mental health/psycho-social/psychiatry field  
  • MHPSS activities are adapted to incorporate best-practice  
  • The development/revision of essential documents (policies, guidelines, protocols, tools, and other strategic papers) of other disciplines, incorporating relevant MHPSS components  
  • Participate in interdisciplinary working groups (e.g. migration circle, violence, palliative care) when required/relevant  
  • Identify major gaps or concerns in mental health care provision at project level and recommend strategies to address these at global level  
  • Contribute to the writing of the mental health activities chapter in the annual medical report and participate, promote organisational learning through project experience  
  1. Ensure good collaboration and representation within and outside MSF  
  • Participate actively in the MH intersectional Working group in the development of guidelines, trainings and clinical guidance and in the implementation of the action plan with a particular focus on psychiatric care  
  • Collaborate with other referents in the medical and operations department on subjects of common interest: health promotion, anthropologists, intercultural mediators, sexual and reproductive health, paediatrics, nutrition, non-communicable disease, researchers, health information system, etc.   
  • Participate in the medical meetings, OCB working groups (“circles”), as required and other MSF OCB gathering or events  
  • Support the communication and analysis departments as required  
  • Collaborate and coordinate regularly with the human resources department in the management of MH staff, including recruitment, skills assessment, matching and evaluation  
  • Contribute to the building of a relevant network of experts in mental health issues and in humanitarian aid around mental health to foster exchange, influence, and partnership possibilities  
  • Participate in workshops, international expert groups organized by WHO, academic institutions or other validated initiatives, when relevant 


Education & Experience 

  • Medical Degree  
  • Specialization in psychiatry  
  • Post graduated training in psychological therapies is a strong asset  
  • Minimum five years of clinical experience as a clinical psychiatrist  
  • Minimum two years of experience working in a humanitarian context, either with MSF or another relevant medical organization  
  • Experience in advising on mental health strategies  
  • Experience in providing technical advice in humanitarian contexts.  
  • Experience in writing of guidelines, protocols, and tools  
  • Experience in delivering trainings and facilitating professional development of teams  
  • Leadership position in mental health services is an asset  


  • Good team player with flexibility, creativity, and management skills   
  • Good communication skills: active listener, clear and effective communication, sense of diplomacy and pedagogy  
  • Ability to establish and retain positive working relationships (internally and externally)  
  • Driven to improve quality of care and support innovation   
  • Capacity to work within agreed timeline and ability to prioritize activities/tasks and respond to urgent requests  
  • Strong cross-cultural awareness and adaptability   
  • Use of excel, word and PowerPoint  
  • Humanitarian interest and motivation, especially towards MSF  


  • Fluent in English and French (spoken and written) 
  • Working knowledge of Arabic, Portuguese or Spanish is an asset 


  • Expected starting date: As soon as possible   
  • Location*: Brussels (Belgium), Nairobi (Kenia) or Abidjan (Ivory Coast)  
*Other location/s where there is an MSF entity could be exceptionally discussed. The final outcome depends on local legal limitations (residency, work permit, etc.) and on agreement with the hosting MSF entity/office of the/se location/s. The local contract and standard salary grid will then apply  
  • Mobility: Willing to travel regularly (30% of working time) to MSF project locations   
  • Position type: Open-ended – Full time   
  • The contractual terms and conditions will be established according to the place of work, legal constraints and in respect of MSF standard function and salary grids 
  • Adhere to the MSF principles and to our managerial values: Respect, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, Trust, and Empowerment   
  • Adhere to the MSF Behavioral Commitments  

Deadline for applications: 4th of June 2024 

How to apply? 

Please Submit online applications by the 4th of June at the latest via the following link. After clicking on this link, you will be directed to our online application tool 

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. 

MSF values diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive working environment. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of disability, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, race, color or ethnic and national origins, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. 

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