This Practical Approaches brief highlights key considerations for taking a psychosocial approach to working in the context of an epidemic. Public health emergencies can cultivate fear, anger and grief, and deeply impact the wider social fabric. Exposure to disease is frightening to many.

When people are frightened, they may avoid or flee treatment facilities and distrust those responding to the epidemic. They are also more difficult to ‘engage’ through traditional mechanisms. Furthermore, people in affected areas may misattribute signs of worry (headaches, stomach-ache, etc.) as symptoms of the disease, which can increase suffering and overwhelm health services.