Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), vicarious trauma and chronic stress, for example, are very real risks for those working in insecure or hostile environments, and can have serious physical health implications as well as long-term mental health repercussions.
In 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that 47% of its staff experienced difficulty sleeping and 57% reported symptoms of sadness, unhappiness or emptiness. In another study, Antares Foundation found that 46% to 80% of staff working in high-stress situations in their home country experience symptoms of distress.
This data is consistent across sectors that work in high-stress and insecure environments. A recent study on human rights defenders found that 89% of the study were exposed to secondary and primary trauma through interviewing witnesses and 19% had significant symptoms associated with PTSD.
The impact of chronic and traumatic stress is immense. According to the World Health Organization, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century. The Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom estimates that 17 million works days each year are lost due to stress, anxiety and depression.
At the same time, there are numerous studies that demonstrate that resilient staff are essential for the healthy functioning of an organisation.
These numbers demonstrate the vast scale of the need. However, too often discussions on stress, wellbeing and mental health are taboo, and staff worry that their career will be impacted if they reveal how they are truly feeling. Open Briefing is committed to working with organisations to change this narrative and improve staff wellbeing and resilience. Through audits, training and direct service provision, we can begin to change the script, helping both staff and organisations to increase their resilience, and, ultimately, programme more effectively.Staff wellbeing and resilience services for organisations working in high-stress and insecure environmentsClick To Tweet
We can also support you with safeguarding, which is another related – and often overlooked – element of duty of care. Safeguarding has traditionally focussed on the responsibility that organisations have to ensure that their staff and programmes do not harm children (including preventing sexual exploitation and abuse); however, it has recently expanded to include vulnerable adults as well protecting staff from inappropriate behaviour, such as bullying and harassment. It is essential that all organisations have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place in order to meet good practice standards and their duty of care obligations.
Open Briefing is a member of the International NGO Safety & Security Association, BOND and the Charities Security Forum. We are also a certified social enterprise.