Around 30% of the general population suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety — and people working in the aid sector will always experience some of this, said Dr. Kavita Avula, lead consulting psychologist with The KonTerra Group, which supports leadership development, in addition to staff care and resilience, for organizations working in high-stress environments.
Aid workers are often operating in high-risk contexts, where resources are limited and movement is restricted. They are exposed to human suffering and trauma, work long hours, and may be separated from family, so it can be challenging to find ways to decompress and attend to their own well-being, Avula explained.
Increasingly, employers are understanding the importance of taking care of staff from the moment they are hired and adopting a more holistic approach to mental health, she continued. However, a lot of stigma still exists around this topic.
Avula stressed the importance of talking about mental health every day in the workplace. Don’t wait for a crisis — talk about it now and have a response plan in place, she suggested.
Highlights from this 30-minute conference call include:
The importance of setting up a healthy and functional environment for staff to operate in.
How to create a healthy management culture and one where managers are well-versed on mental health issues.
Advice for organizations, including those with fewer resources, on how to better support staff.
Signs that a colleague or team member is suffering from stress and advice on how to best support them.
Why leaders should assess how organizational culture is impacting staff well-being.
Ideas, such as expressive writing and breathing exercises, to help aid workers be more conscious of their own well-being.
Speakers: Dr. Kavita Avula, lead consulting psychologist, The KonTerra Group
Moderator: Emma Smith, careers reporter, Devex