Psychosocial risks

Each phase of deployment has its own inherent set of psychosocial risks (stressors).

Be mindful when preparing assignees for a deployment to help them anticipate these challenges. Also check out subjective responses to the stressors. What evokes a strong stress response in one person won’t necessarily pose as a high stress factor for another. Ensure you help assignees to identify strategies and tips for dealing with each of the phases of deployment, not just the field phase.

For managers … consider training related to this topic (see workshop WS1).

Cycle of deployment

It’s important to prepare & educate deployees about all phases of the deployment cycle.

Q: Can you name the different phases of a deployment?

A: Pre-mobilization, Mobilization, Field Entry, On Assignment, End-of-Assignment, Field Exit, Decompression, Re-Entry and Re-Integration. Each phase of deployment can trigger an array of different emotions. It can be helpful to be pre-warned about the range of emotional challenges of deploying.

For managers … consider training related to this topic (see workshops WS1 , WS2 & WS3)

Pre-deployment briefing

About to undertake your first deployment?

Ensure that you undertake an adequate pre-deployment briefing weeks in advance of mobilizing. A comprehensive briefing will factor in a systematic review of psychosocial risks you are likely to encounter on assignment. You will also be supported to construct a personal self-care plan that considers strategies for mitigating psychosocial risks. Some organizations will offer this themselves, others will outsource it to professionals.

For managers … consider training related to this topic (see workshop WS1 & WS2).


Aid and development work attracts idealists. Ensure that you recognize tell-tale signs of burnout.

These indicates include feeling …

  • Dissatisfied and pessimistic
  • Disillusioned
  • Even apathetic
  • Wanting to withdraw
  • Starting a role with high expectations and idealism

Get a psychological check-up. You may be experiencing burn-out, a common phenomenon amongst aid and development workers.

For managers … consider training in this topic (see workshop WS4)

For aid workers/ volunteers … consider training related to this topic (link to workshop WS10)

Mental health in emergencies

No matter your role, it's important you're aware of mental health issues in emergency situations.

“Mental health is crucial to the overall well-being, functioning, and resilience of individuals, societies, and countries recovering from emergencies”. This is an extract from a very useful resource published by WHO.

Know your motivation

There are many push and pull factors to undertaking aid work. It's important to understand the ramifications of your own motivations and expectations.

Knowing your motivation to work in the humanitarian & development sector is important as motivation can influence your expectations of not only yourself but of team members and the management of a project.

Here’s an interesting article to check out:  Why you might want to work in relief and development