Health and wellbeing

While there is substantial attention paid to the safety and security of humanitarian staff, its focus has tended towards physical safety, neglecting the psychological and mental health of aid workers. Such inattention runs contrary to the evidence, which unsurprisingly (given the nature of crisis response) shows that aid workers suffer from high-levels of anxiety, post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, and burnout. From an organizational standpoint this can be viewed as part of staff wellness, or duty of care, and in addition to its impact on the person it also undermines effectiveness of their work. In parallel to the responsibility of the employer, individuals must take personal responsibility for their managing their stress.

Photo: EU/ECHO/Oleksandr Ratushniak

Key references

Guidelines intended to help organizations define their own needs in relation to stress management and develop their own staff care system

Resource exploring the current state of wellbeing support available to aid workers within the humanitarian sector, and introducing the concept of mindfulness and mindfulness-based approaches

Briefing on psychology, trauma, and staff wellness in humanitarian action in support of the World Humanitarian Summit

Learning resources

Course designed for anyone seeking to reduce the negative effects of stress

Course to help understanding the impact that stress is having on your lives and how to build personal and organizational resilience

Video on causes and signs of burnout, and practical tips to prevent burnout and increase resilience

Document on the importance of mental health for managing life’s challenges and to achieving a full and creative life

Brief overview of the Essential Principles of Staff Care and insights from the Director of Operations at World Learning on how his organization applied the principles to develop a staff care program

Upcoming courses:

March 17-24:
Amman/Dead Sea

April 1-8:
Nairobi

April 29-May 3:
Geneva