Managing Stress in the Field

Knowledge and awareness of the effects of stress and trauma on humanitarian workers have gradually increased over the past decade. Stress reactions today are no longer seen as a sign of weakness or vulnerability but as a natural human reaction when confronted to extreme situations, violence and suffering. The nature of humanitarian work has also drastically changed over the last decade. Humanitarian workers have paid dearly in the face of violence and terrorism. Burn out and after-effects of traumatic experiences constitute a major risk for humanitarian workers. After ten years of experience with delegate stress, the Psychological Support Programme (PSP) team emphasizes the importance of efficient stress management.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has set up a PSP-team for their delegates in response to these needs. Since 1993 psychological support has been available to delegates in Geneva and delegations. This publication has been conceived as a practical manual. The different types of stress experienced by delegates are described along with the associated symptoms. It highlights the importance of identifying and knowing personal, team and organisational resources. This second version has been adapted to reflect updated needs and experiences. It incorporates a new selfassessment questionnaire at the end of the booklet. Increasing delegates’ knowledge of stress management will avoid potential risks to their psychological and physical health. We hope this booklet will encourage delegates to take care of themselves and each other and to make full use of their resources.

Resource Info


Published by

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)


Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)
Social and Emotional Learning