ON BECOMING STRESS RESISTANT IN A HUMANITARIAN CONTEXT

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Many of today’s violent conflicts and growing number of natural disasters can be characterized as “complex humanitarian emergencies.” The risk for the psychological well-being of relief workers caused by exposure to traumatic events and working with destitute populations has grown over the last five years on account of the exponential increase in security incidents and more difficult life conditions in the work environment.

Helping relief workers to enhance their stress resistance can help mitigate the adverse effects of those very difficult work-life contexts and distressing experiences, which can have a direct positive impact on both their professional and personal lives. This 45mn course is meant to introduce the relief worker to the basics of stress management in the field. Our approach, however, is towards strengthening resistance to stress by developing a good knowledge of what it looks like in a humanitarian environment and what one can do about it, what the risk factors are, as well as the protective factors one can put in place.

What will you learn? 

  • Firstly, you will learn to evaluate the stress factors in your work environment, which can later help you monitor them during your mission and thus protect you from further damage.
  • Then, in order to become more stress resistant, you need to know your « enemy » so to speak. You have to understand its nature and what it looks like, especially the two types of “negative” stress : so-called Cumulative stress, which, if left unattended, can turn into a Burnout and destroy your health and well-being; and the  kind of distress  experienced after a critical or security incident, called Critical Incident Stress.
  • Finally, you will be able to try out a few coping tools and choose the ones that are the most efficient in helping you build your stress resistance.

Who should take this course?

Every person working in a humanitarian program in harsh work conditions, such as:

  • International expatriates
  • National staff
  • Field Managers
  • NGO Human Resource Managers
  • Staff Development Officers
  • Security Officers

But this course on Becoming Stress Resistant may also be of interest to:

  • War reporters
  • Medical emergency personnel
  • Civil defense and/or rescue services

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CHP – Centre for Humanitarian Psychology
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CH-1205 Genève
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