Resilience as Resistance: Mental health and well-being in human rights

What risks advocates face and how they might be mitigated?

Studio Incendo/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

The mental health and well-being of advocates has often been neglected by human rights organizations, funders, and advocates themselves. Recently, however, activists and mental health professionals have begun giving the issue more attention, exploring what risks advocates face and how they might be mitigated. Human rights organizations increasingly want to bolster the resilience and creativity of their staff and constituents. Defenders increasingly see their own well-being as an imperative for sustainable movements.

This series examines a range of critical questions and issues including: research conducted on the mental health impacts of human rights work, obstacles to advancing mental health and well-being in this field, as well as innovative approaches and strategies to prevent and alleviate the harmful effects of human rights work.

Collaborating Guest Editors: Fred AbrahamsFarea Al-MuslimiSarah KnuckeyDouglas MawadriLucia Nader, and Meg Satterthwaite

 

The Barcelona Guidelines: supporting human rights defenders in temporary relocation

By: Martin Jones & Alice M. Nah & Tessa de Ryck
Español | Français | العربية

For human rights defenders in crisis, temporary relocation can save lives. But new guidelines highlight that the wellbeing and mental health of these defenders ...

Embodiment as resilience and resistance in human rights work

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Español

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Power and safety: rethinking protection for human rights defenders

By: James Savage & Lisa VeneKlasen
Español

The protection and resilience of Human Rights Defenders demands that we all better understand and navigate how power and violence operate in both public and private ...

Treaty pushes for environmental justice in Latin America and the Caribbean

By: Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah
Español

Despite closing space for civil society, the new Escazú Agreement—which offers protection measures for environmental groups and defenders—is a shining example of ...

Could “hope and aspirations” end the vicious cycle of poverty?

By: Keetie Roelen
Español

Non-invasive and non-punitive interventions that draw on positive emotions have promising potential to break the poverty cycle, but this approach risks ignoring ...

Self-care for sustainable movements: difficult but necessary

By: Gulika Reddy

Donors, organizations and staff in the peacebuilding and human rights fields need to talk about the systemic, organizational, and personal barriers to self-care.

Creating a healing space for women human rights defenders

By: Ana María Hernández Cárdenas & Nallely Guadalupe Tello Méndez
Español

Self-care and collective care do not erase the stress and tensions of everyday life, but using these strategies can sustainably improve our coexistence and work ...

Avoiding the “access abyss”: palliative care, pain relief, and human rights

By: Ravindran Daniel
Español

The last decade has seen major developments in recognizing palliative care and pain treatment as a human rights issue, but governments have a long way to go in ...

Building the foundations of resilience: 11 lessons for human rights educators and supervisors

By: Sarah Knuckey & Su Anne Lee
Español

Educators and managers can play an important role in building the next generation of resilient human rights advocates.

The forgotten advocates of children's rights in Guatemala

By: Myrella Saadeh
Español

In Guatemala, children’s rights advocates are often the most heavily burdened and the most frequently ignored.

New threats against human rights defenders require new kinds of protection

By: Padre Melo
Español

Human rights organizations and funders in Latin America need to rethink how they protect defenders in light of increasing threats from non-state actors and impunity ...

Integrating a psychosocial perspective in human rights works

By: Maik Müller
Español

Integrating a psychosocial perspective requires the incorporation of psychosocial support and self-care into job descriptions and work plans

“No One Warned Me”: the trade-off between self-care and effective activism

By: Yara Sallam
العربية

Is there a trade off between protecting your mental health as an activist and doing effective work?

Making our movements sustainable: practicing holistic security every day

By: Deepa Ranganathan & María Díaz Ezquerro
Español | العربية | Français

What does holistic security and collective self-care in human rights work look like on a day-to-day basis?

Revolutions are built on hope: the role of funders in collective self-care

By: Shena Cavallo & Jocelyn Berger & Michelle Truong
Español

Funder practices are vital to alleviate partner advocates’ stress, anxiety, and burnout from uncertainty or rigid requirements.

Collective care in human rights funding: a political stand

By: Meerim Ilyas & Tatiana Cordero Velásquez
العربية | Português | Español

To support the activists and groups that we fund, donors must engage in honest conversations around our own burnout and ethics.

Ready for anything: how preparation can improve trauma recovery

By: Zelalem Kibret
العربية

When in the field, human rights workers must be better prepared for trauma in order to heal from it.

Security and well-being: two sides of the same coin

By: Holly Davis & Magda Adamowicz
Español

By not paying enough attention to self-care, activists are compromising their own security—and that of their organizations.

Turning weakness into strength: lessons as a new advocate

By: Alexandra Zetes

Without adequate preparation, new human rights advocates can be easily traumatized and struggle to understand what they are going through.

Healthy for the long haul: building resilience in human rights workers

By: Fred Abrahams
Español | العربية

Human rights organizations are finally recognizing that mental health programs for their own staff are long overdue.

Fighting stigma: protecting the mental health of African rights advocates

By: Douglas Mathew Mawadri
Français | العربية

Human rights advocates in Africa face significant challenges in getting past mental health stigmas in order to get help.

Evidence of trauma: the impact of human rights work on advocates

By: Meg Satterthwaite
Español | Français

It’s time to think seriously about the effects of trauma on human rights activists.

 
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