Athena Viscusi is a clinical social worker and part of MSF’s Psychosocial Care Unit (PSCU), a group of mental health care workers who have worked internationally with MSF and now focus on psychosocial care for MSF staff.
What are the potential risks to humanitarian workers’ mental health and how does MSF address them?
Before MSF staff members leave for their first assignment, we work with them to prepare so they can avoid falling prey to the most common risks to mental health. Burnout, for example, can happen if you’re working in emergency situations, with many obstacles, for long periods of time, and with long hours. It can happen when the amount of stress that you’re exposed to surpasses your coping mechanisms.