Individual Consultant of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (home based), UNICEF China

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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, Child Protection and Care 

The purpose of this consultancy is to provide strategic advice to UNICEF China on MHPSS through the development of a strategic document, which scans the policy environment, identifies opportunities for actions as well as bottlenecks, and provides strategic direction for optimization of interventions implemented by UNICEF China with government partners, including opportunities for convergence, wider scale and coordination.

How can you make a difference? 

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is an institutional priority for the UN, and for UNICEF, and is critical to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The UNICEF Strategic Plan 2021-2025 identifies MHPSS as a priority and cross-cutting area in which Health, Education and Child Protection are converging actions. The mental health of children and adolescents is one of the world’s most neglected health issues. It is estimated that 1 in 7 boys and 1 in 9 girls aged 10-19 years in East Asia and the Pacific have a mental health condition, with suicide being the third leading cause of death among them.

In China, according to a mental health survey involving more than 30,000 adolescents conducted by the Institute of Psychology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2022, 14.8% of respondents showed risks of depression to various degrees. The figure was even higher in other studies indicating a higher prevalence of mental disorders with 17.5% of the children and adolescents aged 6-16 years old diagnosed with one or more mental disorders. The prevalence of anxiety disorders was 4.7%, and depressive disorders was 3.0%.

The realities behind data are not limited to health conditions, but also include a series of family and social problems, such as persistent stress, social isolation or exclusion, family poverty, violence and trauma. All these factors could be causes of mental health issues or psychosocial distress of children and adolescents who are at the most vulnerable stages of development, calling for collaborative efforts from various sectors, including child protection, social protection, education, health and justice to ensure the emotional, psychological and social well-being of every child, their caregivers and their communities.

Some actions have been taken in this domain. In 2019, the Chinese government started the Healthy China Initiative (2019-2030) which encouraged the establishment of psychosocial support network, strengthening of social service workforce, education of mental wellbeing and the provision of public service for psychological crisis.

Following the Initiative, a joint proposal, the Action Plan of Child and Adolescent Mental and Psychological Health (2019-2022), was presented by 12 governmental departments and official organizations, with more specific and time-bound detailed goals.

In 2023, to further ensure the successful achievement of the Initiative mentioned above and to improve the mental and psychological wellbeing of students, the Ministry of Education with other 16 state departments and organizations released the Special Action Plan on Strengthening and Improvement of the Work of Student Mental Health in New Era (2023-2025) where the importance of public education, social service network, social workforce and psychosocial supports were also stressed. Months later, the same year, the Three-Year Action Plan for Quality Improvement of Care Services for Left-behind and Vulnerable Children in Rural Areas included the improvement of psychosocial education and services as one of its core tasks.

UNICEF China has been a supportive partner to these government actions. Partnering with ministries and departments, UNICEF China has supported the development MHPSS in different sectors.

  • In Child Health and Development, UNICEF supported the development of a mental health service package and a Peer-support toolkit for schools to improve adolescent mental health service and cultivate adolescents’ capabilities in providing psychological first aid to peers.
  • In Education, UNICEF is supporting Ministry of Education to scale up social emotional learning in schools and vocational colleges to support children develop core life skills such as self-awareness, emotional management and resilience. Efforts were also made to improve teacher’s capacity to cater for children with special education needs and to strengthen school mechanism to combat school bullying and other forms of violence, all aimed at creating safer learning environment where children can receive adequate protection and psycho-social support.
  • In Child Protection, UNICEF China also showed its commitment in strengthening the MHPSS capacity of social service workforce, especially in emergency scenarios and is strengthening the families’ resilience and capacity to deal with stress through parenting programmes and by strengthening children’s resilience through sports and play-based activities that aim to promote psychosocial support.

As UNICEF China is preparing its next programme document (2026-2030), in 2024, UNICEF China intends to take a deep dive on MHPSS to better understand the policy environment and opportunities as well as bottlenecks that exist. In this context, it intends to optimize existing interventions implemented by UNICEF China and suggest pathways for better convergence as well as advocacy opportunities and strategies.

Objective (s)-

  • Conduct a scoping exercise of the policy landscape in China in relation to MHPSS; identify opportunities, potential gaps or areas that require attention.
  • Within the current policy context, identify areas to which UNICEF China’s action is contributing and areas in which advocacy and programmatic efforts should be strengthened.
  • With the policy context and UNICEF’s global approach to MHPSS, develop a conceptual framework for China Country Office.
  • Develop recommendations for UNICEF China on how to leverage policy opportunities and how to maximize programmatic convergence, coordination and scaling up, especially in the context of the new Country Programme Document and taking into account other stakeholders.
For details, please refer to attachment Download File Work Assignments Overview and breakdown of deliverables.pdf

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

  • Minimum 10 years of experiencing in policy related research and analysis. At least five years should be specifically in the field of psychology and mental health related strategies, policies, and programmes for governments and/or international organizations 
  • Understanding of MHPSS programming and of the role different sectors can play
  • China related specific experience and understanding of the country context especially in terms of mental health is essential
  • Strong desk research, writing, communication, teamwork, time management and coordination skills, supported by submission of sample
  • Fluency in written and spoken Chinese is a must. Fluency in English is also required.
  • Experience of working with UN agencies is highly desirables 

For every child, you demonstrate UNICEF values of Care, Respect, Integrity Trust, Accountability, and Sustainability (CRITAS) 

To view our competency framework, please visit  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.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants/individual contractors with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment. 

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 also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. 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. 


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

Please indicate both your individual daily rate and the lump-sum amount for this assignment in your application. 

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws. 

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts. 

Advertised: 14 May 2024 China Standard Time
Deadline: 27 May 2024 China Standard Time

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