Stigma, guilt and gaps in the system: it’s time for NGOs to step up on staff mental health

After a Guardian survey suggested a high number of humanitarians experience mental health issues, we asked experts what needs to change

“Many of the people we treated had feelings of guilt, that they could have done more to help, especially for the young children who died,” says Idit Albert, one of several psychologists from the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust to provide psychologist support to healthcare workers responding to Ebola in Sierra Leone. “It’s not normal for children to die, but we tried to normalise the fact that they’re not the only people to find the deaths of children difficult.”

Through Skype, phone calls and face-to-face sessions, Albert and her colleagues help workers from the King’s Centre for Global Health and the NHS to process and reflect on their experiences – before, during and after their deployments. The Ebola Psychological Support Service provides different levels of support, from being a listening ear to treating the symptoms some health workers had developed.

“Some people had – and still do have – intrusive memories of their experience, particularly around the time they go to sleep,” says Albert. “What was more prominent, though, were the feelings of guilt and self doubt over the care they provided: did they do the right things?”

Read the full article: Stigma, guilt and gaps in the system: it’s time for NGOs to step up on staff mental health

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