Humanitarians, Volunteers, and the Mental Health Crisis

Natural disasters may cause destruction, but the humanity that rushes to the aid of those in need after these events take place is astonishing. As humanitarians aid the affected, they are putting their own well-being aside to offer help to those less fortunate. However, volunteers often experience second-hand trauma due to taxing conditions and lacking organizational support.

The truth is that support for those working in the humanitarian world is severely lacking. Traumatic experiences, dangerous conditions, long hours and chronic stress all negatively affect one’s mental health, leading workers to more likely deal with increased anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Improving organizational factors is a good place to start if the humanitarian aid space is committed to dealing with these harmful mental effects. Strengthening inadequate supervision standards and encouraging positive staff relations are just a couple things to be done to improve morale.

Organizations must 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 beginning of a scheduling period gives workers more freedom in their personal lives. Other implementations include team debriefings, one-on-one meetings, and mental health workshops.

Humanitarians should also stress emotional strength training as part of their routine to promote a healthy mind and lifestyle. When the work becomes too stressful and appropriate resources are nowhere to be found, it’s paramount to 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 resource provided by Life for Relief and Development.

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

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