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How to improve organisational staff support? Suggestions from humanitarian workers in South Sudan


1 MSc, MA, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA; Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen University, Edinburgh, UK; Antares Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Antares Foundation, Amsterdam; MD, PhD, Equator Foundation, Diemen; Amsterdam UMC, Department of Psychiatry, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3 Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen University, Edinburgh, UK; Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, USA

Correspondence Address:
Hannah Strohmeier,
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, EH21 6UU, UK

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/INTV.INTV_22_18

Humanitarian workers experience high symptom burdens of common mental health problems. This requires action from the organisations they are employed with. However, many studies have documented continuing weaknesses in organisational staff support, as well as disparities in access to the services for national and international staff. Systematic data capturing suggestions from humanitarian workers on how to tackle this situation within a specific crisis setting is rarely available. This study addresses this gap through qualitative content analysis of the suggestions from the 210 humanitarian workers based in South Sudan collected through an online survey in 2017. Five major themes emerged regarding proposed improvements: ‘Competitive benefit and salary packages’; ‘internal work climate and organisational culture’; ‘equality within and between organisations’; ‘skill enhancement and personal development’ and ‘physical safety and security’. For both national and international staff, improved access to psychosocial support services was the most frequent proposal. Apart from this suggestion, their top priorities for improvement of staff support differed greatly. National staff emphasised improvements related to training and greater equality between employees. International staff emphasised improvements related to time off and team cohesion. Findings provide a clear case for organisations to assess their services and offer a potential framework to inform future interventions that better address the priorities of the humanitarian community as a whole. Key implications for practice
  • Organisations need to ensure staff have adequate access to psychosocial support services
  • National and international staff have different priorities regarding staff support and organisations need to reflect these in their provision of services
  • A unified understanding of staff support is required to manage expectations of staff and hold organisations accountable.


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