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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-33

Ethics for global mental health specialists

psychologist and Certified Trauma Specialist. She is director of the integrated behavioural health services for refugees and immigrants at Lynn Community Health Center, faculty at Cambridge College (School of Psychology and Counselling), as well as an expert-consultant for UNICEF, working with traumatized communities nationally and internationally in Russia, Armenia, Chechnya, Chernobyl, Kosovo, Ukraine, Liberia and Abkhazia., Liberia

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Global mental health work is an emerging specialisation that focuses on serving culturally diverse populations around the world. International mental health providers often work in the settings with complex needs where they are confronted with mass trauma and human suffering. This places special demands on making independent, responsible, competent and ethical decisions in often unique circumstances. Exposure to both the incomprehensible failure of humanity and the incredible resilience of impacted populations forces professionals to re-examine their convictions and beliefs. This, in turn, opens an opportunity for profound existential discoveries about the world, their profession and themselves. This paper argues that humanitarian principles and strategic guidelines for psychosocial intervention provides the conceptual framework and operational guidance for mental health specialists to navigate ethical and moral conundrums in response to pressing humanitarian psychosocial needs, and to do this in a moral, professional, consistent and collaborative way. Further, serving vulnerable populations calls for higher standards of self-awareness and self-care ( Williams, 2012 ), with safety an imperative and burnout prevention key to professional competencies.

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