UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, support.

The fundamental mission of UNICEF is to promote the rights of every child, everywhere, in everything the organization does — in programming, advocacy and operations. The equity strategy, emphasizing the most disadvantaged and excluded children and families, translates the commitment of children’s rights into action. For UNICEF, equity means that all children have an opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potential, without discrimination, bias or favouritism. There is growing evidence that investing in the health, education and protection of a society’s most disadvantaged citizens not only will give all children the opportunity to fulfil their potential but also will lead to sustained growth and stability of countries.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is an institutional priority for the United Nations, including for UNICEF. The UNICEF Strategic Plan 2022 – 2025 identifies MHPSS as a priority area for children, caregivers, parents and young people, with newly defined indicators and priorities within Goal Areas 1 (Survive and Thrive), 2 (Every Child Learns) and 3 (Every Child is protected from violence and exploitation) and a further emphasis on change agents required to realise the organization vision and commitments. Alongside its Strategic Plan, UNICEF has recently released its new Operational Framework for MHPSS which emphasizes the cross and intersectoral approach of integrating MHPSS into Emergency and Development programmes and working at multiple levels of system change. Combined, these documents demonstrate a clear scaling up of MHPSS within UNICEF shifting away from siloed programming to effecting long term system change to ensure that children, adolescents, families and communities, benefit from supportive and nurturing environments to develop and maintain good mental as a fundamental human right.

Eastern and Southern Africa was one of three UNICEF regions to be awarded 7% set aside funding to pilot MHPSS acceleration (2021- 2022) with funds directed to the Regional Office, Ethiopia and Rwanda Country Offices. These funds were used to support specific MHPSS programming and increasing technical support at regional level. The success of this initial investment in scaling up engagement in cross sectoral MHPSS dialogue, programming and coordination has influenced UNICEF’s HQ decision to provide a further 2 years 7% set aside funding specifically for investment in MHPSS capacity at ESARO level.

How can you make a difference?

The purpose of this position is to support the continued efforts of the regional office and country offices to realise the goals and commitments expressed with the UNICEF Strategic Plan and sector specific frameworks.

Goal and Objective

The overall objective of this assignment is to oversee the development and implementation of the regional strategy on MHPSS in line with the Strategic Plan and the Regional Office Management Plan and Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Collaboration for Children (ESAR C4C) to scale-up integrated and cross-sectoral MHPSS programming in both development and emergency settings. In addition, the incumbent will provide support to UNICEF programmes, Government counterparts and/ or other regional institutions (including the African Union and Regional Economic Committees) to include MHPSS into relevant planning and policies in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

This position will support the Regional Office in 4 main areas of work and will be expected to complete the following tasks:

1. Cross-sectoral MHPSS strategy development and implementation

  • Acting as the strategic lead for MHPSS and Regional Office MHPSS Working Group, coordinate MHPSS strategic and programmatic priorities across sectors and areas of work at regional level including the development of annual and multi-year workplans.
  • Through the regional working group and with programme focal points, develop and implement the regional MHPSS strategy and related workplans in alignment with the Global MHPSS Multi-sectoral Operational Framework.
  • Identify strategic technical partnerships within the region and nurture the existing ones.
  • Develop and monitor the implementation of a regional Resource Mobilization Strategy for UNICEF Activities.

2. Coordination and Partnerships

  • Coordinate implementation and reporting on 7% set aside funding for MHPSS.
  • Facilitate and coordinate multi-sector regional working groups.
  • In cooperation with the programmes MHPSS focal persons, support policy level dialogue, field level coordination and advocacy for MHPSS.
  • In close liaison with WCARO and WHO Africa, coordinate ESARO contribution and implementation of the 10-year Joint Programme on MHPSS in ESAR including resource mobilisation.

3. Technical Support, capacity strengthening and representation

  • Provide technical support to programme focal points to strengthen the government led MHPSS multi-sectoral coordination structures.
  • Facilitate the dissemination of the latest evidence and guidance on the prevention and response of MHPSS for UNICEF staff and partners in the region.
  • Set up training and capacity building activities through regular webinars and trainings.
  • Provide inputs to any new project design and/or proposal to ensure more systematic integration of MHPSS and for capacity building, as needs be.
  • In collaboration with the Regional Office MHPSS focal persons, provide technical support to countries towards development, implementation, and evaluation of multi-sectoral country-level workplans in line with the Global MHPSS Multi-sectoral Operational Framework.
  • Provide technical oversight on region Mental Health Global Advocacy Priority (GAP).
  • Support the Regional Office management for the development and review of MHPSS outreach material and act as the MHPSS Administrative Agent, as relevant.
  • Maintain the list of MHPSS focal persons and national coordination structures; as well as the MHPSS capacity needs assessment for UNICEF staff in the region if needs be.

4. Knowledge management

  • Strengthen the UNICEF MHPSS regional community of practice (support learning exchanges between countries, identify, help document and share good practices, keep the regional SharePoint of MHPSS materials updated with tools and resources, etc.).
  • Advise programmes and countries in appropriate data collection and analysis to support evidence generation and sharing for improved programming.
  • Maintain communications on MHPSS developments regionally and globally with programmes and Country Offices.
  • Develop or provide inputs to case studies, evaluation and research related to MHPSS.
  • Highlight needs and solutions related to MHPSS in UNICEF communication products and on relevant regional SitReps or human-interest stories.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in one of the following fields: in social sciences; psychology; international development; public health or similar relevant discipline
  • A minimum of eight of relevant professional experience in MHPSS programming, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • Solid knowledge and understanding of health and social work systems, humanitarian principles, child safeguarding measures and established international standards on mental health and psychosocial support for children and adolescents.
  • Strong coordination, organizational and facilitation skills whether face to face or remotely with diverse stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated experience with multi-sectoral programme design and knowledge management, preferably including remote coordination.
  • Comfortable to work independently while coordinating closely with different teams.
  • Developing country work experience and/or familiarity with emergency is considered an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another French or Portuguese is an asset

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: https://uni.cf/UNICEFValues

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.


UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.
We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.
UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF is committed to promote the protection and safeguarding of all children. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


This position has been assessed as an elevated risk role for Child Safeguarding purposes as it is either: a role with direct contact with children, works directly with child, is a safeguarding response role or has been assessed as an elevated risk role for child safeguarding. Additional vetting and assessment for elevated risk roles in child safeguarding (potentially including additional criminal background checks) applies.

UNICEF’s active commitment towards diversity and inclusion is critical to deliver the best results for children.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance.  Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments are also subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid). Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Advertised: E. Africa Standard Time
Deadline: E. Africa Standard Time