Introduction: Running Stress Management Workshops with Cross-cultural Groups
Anonymous comments from national staff after stress management training1
- “The sessions have changed my life.”
- “Very important to me as through them I’ve been healed of my stress – spiritually, and even physically.”
- “This is life-changing.”
- “You have helped not only us, but the whole of Sudan, because wherever we go we will take this learning and see transformation.”
- “I have realized that I am not the only one with that kind of problem and doubts. I am relieved now and I have more strength to go on.”
- “Will certainly help me in work and life.”
- “Have realized that there is a way out of any problem; that there is a road which leads out of the valley.”
This module is designed to help managers, human resources, and trainers in many countries and cultures to plan for and to run stress-management training events for their staff.2 Only a small minority of both expatriate and national humanitarian staff are offered stress-management training3. And yet there is evidence that such training is beneficial4, and is appreciated.
The module is written primarily with national staff in mind – people who work for humanitarian organizations within their own country. National staff are essential to the continuity and success of humanitarian programs worldwide, yet national staff generally receive less attention or support than expatriate humanitarian workers. As such, we focus primarily on national staff here for the following reasons:
- National staff generally face greater risks to their physical and mental health than expatriate staff, but they are offered less psychological support during or after their assignment;
- There are a great many resources already available that explore how to provide good stress-management training in a Western context, to Westerners; and
- Such stress-management programs generally do not explore specific pressures faced by national staff, and programs are not always culturally appropriate.
Who should read this module?
Two companion modules focusing on national staff are also available. Stress and stress-management for national staff is written especially for national staff. Supporting national staff is written for managers, human resources, and consultants who are interested in better supporting their national staff (you can find these in the Headington Institute’s Online Training Program). This module is written for people interested in providing stress-management training for national staff, and may be especially useful for:
- Staff of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including managers, team leaders, human resource personnel;
- Anyone working with humanitarian organizations, such as mental-health professionals, staff-care professionals; trainers, and consultants; and
- Anyone interested in supporting national staff involved with humanitarian work.
What should you get out of this module?
By the end of this module you should know:
- Important questions to consider before running stress-management training;
- How to plan for and structure an effective stress-management workshop;
- Things to consider after stress-management training;
- How to find support for people who’ve experienced trauma.
What are the benefits of providing stress-management training for staff?
The benefits of providing stress-management training may include:
- Staff feel important, valued, and heard;
- Improved team dynamics, morale, and understanding of colleagues;
- Improved stress-management skills which, in turn, can lead to:
- Happier staff;
- Better quality work; and
- Reduced absenteeism, illness, and turnover.
How can you get the most out of this module?
To get the most out of this module, we suggest that you make time to think carefully about the material and how it might apply to you and the people you work with. In particular, we recommend that you take time to consider the questions in the ‘stop and think’ boxes (like the one below) before you read on.
Stop and Think
It is ideal if you can either talk to others about your response to these questions, or write down your response – whichever you find more helpful.
Other Headington Institute training resources
This is one of a series of online modules on stress and humanitarian work produced by the Headington Institute. Additional online modules provided by the Headington Institute include:
- Understanding and coping with traumatic stress
- Trauma and critical incident care for humanitarian workers
- On the road again: Coping with travel and reentry stress
- Stress and stress-management for national staff
- Supporting national staff
- Coping with vicarious trauma
- Humanitarian work, traumatic stress and spirituality
- All in the family: Self-care for partners and families of humanitarian workers
Visit our Online Training Program to find these and other free training modules provided by the Headington Institute.
Next: Planning for stress management training
The information contained in these modules is provided solely for educational purposes. The self-examination exercises and scales on this website are not intended to be used as diagnostic or treatment tools. Any concerns you might have about mental health issues should be discussed with a qualified mental health professional. If any of the material in this module raises concerns for you, please contact the Headington Institute staff or other appropriately qualified mental health professionals.