MHPSS is important for aid workers

Humanitarians are at the heart of aid work. Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is often discussed as a need for the vulnerable populations served by Humanitarians, but less attention is paid to the impact this work has on humanitarian worker. Although staff self-care does not often get the attention it deserves, when reports or articles are published, they often point to the negative impact that a lack of emotional well-being strategies has on workers.

Managing stress in Humanitarian Work

Kristen Guskovict, 2017

"Stress management requires responses at both individual and agency levels. Stress management is often conceptualized in three categories: what type of stress can be avoided, what type of stress can be accepted and what can be adjusted to decrease the psychological impact of stress."

The Idealist's Survival Kit: 75 simple ways to prevent burn out

Alessandra Pigni, 2016 Parallax Press

"Heal from over-exhaustion, prevent burnout, and regain your motivation with these short readings from a psychologist who has spent many years in the field working in conflict and disaster areas"

Documenting the complex relationship between self-efficacy, resiliency, and workplace empowerment: a case study of humanitarian workers in Palestine

Bonnan-White and Issa 2016

'This study examines self-reported views by humanitarian workers working in Palestine concerning three concepts: resilience, generalized self-efficacy, and importance of workplace empowerment'

Helping the Helpers Assisting Staff and Volunteer Workers Before, During, and After Disaster Relief Operations

Quevillon, R. P., Gray, B. L., Erickson, S. E., Gonzalez, E. D. and Jacobs, G. A. 2016; Journal of Clinical Psychology, 72 (12)

"Self-care strategies and system supports employed in preparation for, during, and after disaster relief operations (DROs) are crucial to relief worker well-being and the overall effectiveness of relief efforts."

Staff Well-being and Mental Health in the UNHCR

UNHCR, 2015

"Survey finds that Humanitarian Workers are exposed to mental health risks due to the nature of their work"

Rethinking Compassion Fatigue Through the Lens of Professional Identity: The Case of Child-Protection Workers

Geoffrion, Morselli, Guay 2015; Trauma, Violence, & Abuse
Vol 17, Issue 3, pp. 270 - 283

IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

World Health Organization, 2007

"The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) issues these Guidelines to enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency."

Managing Stress in Humanitarian Workers: Guidelines for Good Practice

Anteras Foundation, 2005

"Managing stress in staff of humanitarian aid organizations is an essential ingredient in enabling the organization to fulfil its field objectives, as well as necessary to protect the well being of the individual staff members themselves."

IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

World Health Organization, 2007

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) issues these Guidelines to enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.

Work Examples

Training and ongoing Suppport

The DRC sought to assist the new staff in preparing for the job, a 6 hour training on: the impact of trauma on adult refugees, the impact of trauma on child refugees and the impact of refugee trauma on humanitarian workers was provided, along with following up support..

UNHCR Unaccompanied Children’s Program

UNHCR was in need of a set of evaluation tools to assist with a review of programs serving unaccompanied children. A literature review along with a set of evaluation tools to be used in interviews various stakeholders including the children themselves and their caregivers.

The Bhutanese Community of Cincinnati

The Bhutanese Community of Cincinnati wanted to develop a peer support model, to assist its community in maintaining their overall well-being. Staff and community members were provided training and ongoing support to enhance their understanding of mental health and the health care system in the U.S.