The Mental Health Crisis in the Humanitarian Space

Natural disasters may cause destruction, but they also bring out the good in humanity as humanitarians rush to the aid of the afflicted. As volunteers supply help to those in need, they set aside their physical and mental health for the well-being of the less fortunate. However, volunteers experience second-hand trauma due to taxing conditions and a lack of organizational support. Because of this, mental well-being is often overlooked.

The harsh truth is that there is not enough adequate support for those working in the humanitarian space. Traumatic experiences, dangerous conditions, long hours and chronic stress keep volunteers from mental peace. Aid workers are more predisposed to be plagued by increased anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can the humanitarian aid space be better off dealing with these negative mental health effects? Improving organizational factors is one way to combat mental stress. Bolstering inadequate supervision standards and emphasizing positive staff relations could end up doing wonders for your team.

Organizations should also make sure that their mental and emotional health training is up to par. Providing clear job descriptions as well as working hours at the start of a schedule promotes a healthy work-life balance so volunteers can plan their personal lives around their work. Other innovative methods include team debriefings, one-on-one meetings, and mental health workshops.

Aid workers should also prioritize resilience and emotional strength as part of their routine to get a head start on maintaining their mental health. When the work becomes overwhelming and adequate resources aren’t available, it’s paramount that you seek out professional help as soon as possible.

For more information on the how to improve mental health in the humanitarian space, please see the accompanying guide provided by Life for Relief and Development.

Guide created by Life for Relief and Development, specialists in humanitarian services

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