Stress is costing your organization.

Stress costs: in time spent on recruitment and training, time lost on inefficiencies and poor performance, in illness and accidents, in security risks, in conflicts and poor communication.

With limited budgets and financial constraints, staff well-being often falls off the list of priorities. But ignoring staff well-being doesn't save money, it costs money.  What you don't spend up-front you pay for in turnover, sick leave, and time spent dealing with stress instead of delivering services. Taking care of staff well-being is essential to working effectively and efficiently.

Humanitarian agencies have a legal and moral imperative to support their staff.

It's not just about productivity though. It's about the moral and legal obligation aid agencies have to provide mental health and psychosocial support for their staff, for all staff - volunteers, interns, deployees, secondees, national, local, international, expatriate. Multiple sets of guidelines from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to the Sphere Project outline the responsibility of aid agencies to promote mental well-being and manage mental health and psychosocial problems in their staff. And since stress is the number one complaint of humanitarians, that means helping staff manage stress.

Reducing stress for humanitarians can - and should - take many forms. It means properly preparing staff for their work, and helping them adjust after a difficult mission or contract. It means looking hard at organizational factors that contribute to stress, like bottle-necks in contract renewal procedures, unrealistic workloads, and internal communication. It means better equipping managers to support staff well-being and rewarding managers who do.

It also means giving your staff tools to manage the stress of their work. 

You can build a resilient team.

Rubber band ball

Resilient teams are made up of resilient people. And resilient people have a distinct way of approaching the world. They adapt - in mind, body, and spirit - to the challenges that life throws them. They don't view stress as something to be avoided but as an opportunity to grow. And it's this mindset - and the actions that go with it - that helps them cope with stress.

If you're reading this right now, I'm guessing it's because you see the impact that stress has on your staff every day and you want to do something about it.

You want the strongest team possible but it is hard to support so many people and still get the work done.

That's exactly why I created an online course in stress management for humanitarians.

What is it?

The Stress Management Course for Humanitarians is a training I’m developing to teach humanitarians how to:

  • Regulate emotional responses to stressful situations
  • Adopt thought patterns that improve coping with stress
  • Apply coping strategies in a flexible way

It’s all about building more resilient teams and team members and that means:

  • Less stress and burnout in team members
  • More time and energy to focus on work
  • Less conflict among team members
  • More effective communication
  • Happier, healthier, and more productive staff

How does it work?

The Stress Management Course for Humanitarians (SMCH) is an online self-directed training. For group plans, you have two options:

  1. Using the Resileo platform - we take care of content, admin, and tech support
  2. Adding the content to your own learning platform – we take care of content and you take care of the rest

Whatever option you choose, team members work through the course individually. It’s designed in small digestible sections so there’s no need to set aside a day and none of the hassle of organizing a workshop.

Get in touch so we can discuss what option works best for your team.

What’s included?


Based on the latest psychological research on resilience, I created SMCH to help humanitarians build the thought and action patterns essential to resilience. In the video lessons (with audio + transcript options for staff with poor internet connections) I cover the whys and how-to’s of resilience habits. I provide easy steps with concrete examples to give a crystal clear picture of what resilience looks like in real (humanitarian) lives. The video lessons are supplemented with practical action sheets designed to help team members start building resilience right away.


The bonus library has the extras to support the core modules. Team members will learn how build healthy habits, reframe stress, and enhance positive emotions. And there are more bonuses to come.


A special bonus just for group packages, the Resilient Teams Toolkit gives practical strategies for supporting teams in building resilience, including how to run a resilience check-in meeting, how to recognize staff members who need more support (and what to do about it), and modeling stress resilience.

Want to know more about the course?

Click here for a downloadable course outline with all the details.

Sounds great. How do I get my team in?

The Stress Management Course for Humanitarians is under development. Sign up below to be notified when it launches.

Meet the course creator

In case we haven't met yet, I'm Dr. Rebecca Dempster, a clinical psychologist, Canadian expat, and consultant for humanitarian organizations.

I've been working in mental health for over 12 years now, and in the humanitarian sector for six of those years. My background includes psychotherapy, assessment, program development and a ton of training. These days I'm based in Beirut but travel widely to deliver training for humanitarians on everything from from stress management to interviewing skills.

No matter where I go, I'm struck by two things.

  1. How dedicated so many humanitarians are
  2. How burnt out so many humanitarians are

The first part is what inspires me to keep working in this field. The second part is what inspired me to create this course.

My philosophy is that your team wants to be doing their best work. They signed up to be humanitarians for a reason. But along the way, they got bogged down - in the bureaucracy, the isolation, the instability and insecurity, the uncertainty.

Now too many humanitarians spend too much time and too much energy trying to fix those things. Time that could be better spent doing their real work, that stuff you hired them to do. The work they want to be doing. And everyone suffers for it. Your team members, your agency and ultimately the people you serve.

The Stress Management Course for Humanitarians is about getting your team back on track.

I've taken everything I know about stress and resilience to make a practical stress management course that's specifically designed for humanitarians. The course focuses on small actions that create big changes in stress resilience.

If you want to give the most and get the most from your team, Get in touch to discuss your options.

Still not sure?

Shouldn’t this kind of training be done in-person rather than online?

There’s actually quite good evidence for e-training in general, and e-training on resilience building specifically. Online training has advantages. You don’t have to pull your whole team out for a workshop. Everyone gets to work at their own pace, going through the modules as quickly or slowly as they like. They can also review them as often as they want, so it’s not a one-off training. Online allows for flexibility that I could never offer in-person.

Not another stress management course! We’ve already provided that and people are still stressed out. What’s different about this one?

I don’t know what you’ve offered your staff before or why your staff still feel stressed. Maybe it was the content or maybe people didn’t or couldn’t apply what they learned. What I can tell you is if your staff really apply what they learn in this course, chances are good that you’ll have a more resilient team. Good, not 100%, because this course - like life - offers no guarantees. But there’s enough research to show that people can learn resilience; it’s a habit that can be built.

If you’re not sure whether this course will be different, take a look again at the course content (click here for the course outline). Is it the same as other stress management courses you’ve provided? Are your staff already doing all those things? If so, this course is probably not for you. If not, you’ll probably find it’s not like other stress management courses. The components I cover in this course go beyond the usual stress management strategies, e.g., breathing exercises and work-life balance. Not that I have anything against breathing exercises (I use them a lot) or work-life balance (I strive for it all the time). They’re both useful strategies. But resilience research points to deeper strategies that require shifts in our mindset. And that’s what this course is about. So if you want to help your staff build a resilient mindset, this is the right course for you.

Shouldn’t we spend our limited budget on beneficiaries?

Ever heard the expression an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? I can’t think of a better way of getting this point across. When you scrimp on staff well-being, you don’t save money – you just shift the costs around. You spend more on sick leave, on training new staff to replace the ones who left because they were too burnt out to keep going, on mediation of staff conflicts, on delivery of programs and services that are slowed down by staff who are emotionally drained and have little left to give.

Here’s an analogy I’ve often used with therapists neglecting self-care – you can’t save someone from drowning if you’re struggling to keep your own head above the water. Caring for yourself and your team is essential to helping anyone else. It should be the first item on the agenda, not the last.

I’ve got a number of staff members who have been through critical incidents. Will this course help them?

This is a basic course in developing resilience to stress. It’s not therapy nor is it meant to be a substitute for therapy. It doesn’t cover strategies for treating trauma. If you have staff members suffering from trauma or other mental health problems like depression, addiction, eating disorders, or self-harm, please help them find more intensive support. Contact your organization’s staff well-being or medical unit if you have one or read more about finding a therapist here.

I’m not in the humanitarian sector. Will this course help my team?

I designed the course specifically with humanitarians in mind, which is why it’s online. And my examples of types of stress and how to implement resilience strategies are influenced by the humanitarian world. That said, the components of resilience are the same no matter who you are, where you live or how you make your living. Anyone can benefit from it as long as they’re willing to put in the work. But if you’d like something developed specifically for your team, get in touch so we can discuss that.

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