Humanitarian work is extremely rewarding but no less challenging, both physically and mentally. Working in environments of high stress and so closely with human suffering has its psychological consequences.
Findings from a 2012 study by the Antares Foundation showed 30% of aid workers reported significant symptoms of PTSD in the aftermath of an assignment, whilst Guardian research published in 2015 found 79% of staff had experienced mental health issues.
To help stay resilient, aid workers are increasingly turning to meditation to help relieve stress and anxiety and foster compassion.
Headspace is a guided meditation app that uses audio sessions to help listeners learn and practice mindfulness in 10 sessions. The app makes meditating accessible and can help aid workers feel relaxed and calm following traumatic and stressful situations.
Alina Potts, 35, a UNICEF worker who has worked in hotspots all over Africa and the Middle East, said that meditation particularly helped her when she was working in the Congo.
“It was really helpful to have a practice that would keep me somewhat grounded in what can really be a destabilising type of work,” Potts, who has meditated for six years, said.
The best thing about mediation she remarks, is that it seems particularly suited to aid workers because it can be done anywhere. “A lot of times, you might be working in a place where your movement is constrained, there are security regulations, or you have a small room with very little privacy.”
This blog is part of the 5 must-have apps series for World Humanitarian Day. Read more here.