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Going the distance (PART 3)
by
Dr. Jim Guy
on
October 3, 2013
| Resilience | Stress & Burnout |

Building Resilient Teams and Organizations

Given the important role played by organizations, supervisors, and colleagues in promoting resilience and maintaining emotional wellbeing, it is wise to consider thoughtfully how to provide effective, proactive staff-care programs and policies.  Here are ways to do this that we’ve found to be effective:
  • Build a caring, informed culture that understands the importance of self-awareness, emotional health, trauma recovery, and professional help when needed.  By promoting the importance of personal resilience, a strong social support network, and a responsive culture, teams and organizations can greatly enhance the emotional health of staff.  Training workshops, focused consultations, and online resources are readily available to help.
  • Ensure that key organizational leaders are trained in basic mental health domains such as Psychological First Aid, Critical Incident Protocols, brain functioning, cross-cultural conflict resolution, gender-related policies and behavior, and supportive counseling skills.  Seeding the organization with skilled, caring supervisors will have a significant impact on its culture and image.
  • Have a plan for providing focused, specialized competent care for victims of a critical incident or someone disabled by emotional distress.  Know when and how to make a referral to a mental health professional.  A well-conceived plan increases the likelihood of a competent and timely response while avoiding regrettable and costly mistakes.

Conclusion

Organizations that understand the factors contributing to emotional distress, and proactively devote adequate resources to promoting individual, team, and organizational resilience, will have the best chance of succeeding in an increasingly complex, dangerous humanitarian aid environment.  Those who fail to do so will likely be forced to spend that same time and money on staff recruitment and retention, disability claims, and formal grievances related to providing inadequate emotional support. Perhaps most important, aid workers who take their own psychological health seriously and practice resilience promoting behaviors will have the greatest chance of thriving and remaining in their career.  It’s worth the effort.  
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