Greetings to all HRAP alumni and participants. As many of you know, for the past several years I have had the pleasure of spending two days each autumn providing the workshop called Stress, Trauma and Resilience in Human Rights Work. Together, we explore how these issues affect individuals and organizations undertaking work that is often both physically and psychologically hazardous. The Advocates learn a great deal from each other and develop “Action Plans” to manage stress and support colleagues in their home organizations. As a group, HRAP participants are invariably sensitive, as well as resilient and resourceful.
Having worked internationally for many years to provide this sort of training for UN and NGO staff in complex emergency settings, I have become involved in China, a country experiencing severe societal stress along with rapid growth and change. The training is welcomed in Universities by student advisors who have heavy responsibilities for a volatile population with a high suicide rate, but little support. First responders to China’s many disasters also find the training useful.
Because of this experience and the fact that clinical mental health skills have generally not been taught in China, I have the privilege of taking part in an exciting initiative to address this need. Colleagues at a university-affiliated institute in Beijing, a school of social work in Washington DC, and my “home” NGO in the Philippines, Community and Family Services, known as CFSI, are developing a Master’s program in Mental Health Social Work that will be a first for China when it opens in 2012.
Like other HRAP affiliates, I have treasured the opportunity to work with Advocates representing so many countries, cultures and human rights communities. What a privilege!