Resilience, Wellbeing and Mental Health Support in Crisis Settings

About this course

The nature of humanitarian and development work is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. In today's frantic world, mental wellbeing is more important than ever and if you’re working in challenging situations, protecting your wellbeing and resilience must be a necessity.

This unique course is designed to enhance your understanding of mental health in crisis settings, build a self-care practice, as well as personal and collective resilience. From mastering the fundamentals of providing psychosocial first aid and support to ways to deal with stress, trauma, loss and grief, this course ensures you have the skills to take care of yourself and others.

Led by national and international experts in the field, this course will be an outstanding addition to your CV.  

Dates: 7, 9, 14, 16, 17 and 21 May 2024. 

Venue: Online via Zoom.

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Why is this course unique?

  • You will learn from top experts in the field of mental health support. Our lecturers are consultants and advisors to well-recognised humanitarian organizations (including IFRC, Save the Children, Aid Against Hunger) and the UK and EU governments.
  • You will have an opportunity to network and share ideas with peers and professionals across the globe (our course has been attended by students and professionals from Uganda, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Australia, Europe, the US and many other countries).
  • The course is run by the queen's award winning Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP, a multidisciplinary centre founded in 1985, that brings together academics, development practitioners and policy makers to develop reflective practice.
  • Oxford Brookes University is one of the UK's leading modern universities and enjoys an international reputation for teaching excellence and innovation.
  • After the completion of the course, you will receive a certificate of attendance from Oxford Brookes University.

Course content

The course includes 6 key modules:
  1. An introduction to wellbeing and mental health in the humanitarian sector - 7 May, 5-8pm UK time
  2. Caring for others: psychosocial first aid - 9 May, 5-8pm UK time
  3. Supporting ourselves, supporting each other: strategies for personal and collective resilience - 14 May, 5-8pm UK time
  4. Managing loss and grief with self compassion in crisis settings - 16 May, 5-8pm UK time
  5. Picking up the pieces: dealing with critical incidents, stress and trauma - 17 May, 12-3pm UK time 
  6. An introduction to mindfulness and compassion - 21 May, 5-8pm UK time.

Learning outcomes

  • Once you have completed this course you will be able to support others in need and provide basic psychosocial first aid.
  • You will acquire core self-care skills and master techniques for positive wellbeing.
  • You will learn how to build personal strategies to improve your own mental health and wellbeing at work.
  • This course will build your skills for managing stress, trauma, loss and grief.
  • You will learn how to contribute to a mentally-healthy workplace culture.
  • You will develop strategies for personal and collective resilience.


Martina Adamcikova

Martina Adamcikova

An introduction to wellbeing and mental health in the humanitarian sector

Martina is an Associate Lecturer in Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University. Her research is dedicated to mental health and wellbeing in the humanitarian sector. She is a Psychosocial First Aid Trainer and Mental Health First Aider. Martina also provides advisory and research support to the Government of Slovakia and is a Mental Health Consultant for the Slovak Red Cross developing staff care programmes, delivering psychosocial first aid trainings and psychosocial support programmes for refugees.

Ea Suzanne Akasha

Ea Suzanne Akasha

Caring for others: psychosocial first aid

Ea is a technical advisor and trainer at the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support covering areas of support to National Societies in Europe. Ea has been a MHPSS delegate for IFRC since 2008 with missions after emergencies such as the cyclone in Myanmar, earthquake in Haiti and floodings in Pakistan and has worked in countries such as Lebanon and Syria during the Syrian crisis. Her background is in psychomotor and family therapy.

Dr Gemma Houldey

Dr Gemma Houldey

Supporting ourselves, supporting each other: strategies for personal and collective resilience

Gemma Houldey has over 15 years of experience with human rights and humanitarian programmes, particularly in the Middle East and East Africa, and over 6 years of research and training focused on staff care in the aid sector. Her PhD thesis and new book, “The Vulnerable Humanitarian: Ending Burnout Culture in the Aid Sector” draws on research conducted in Kenya and her own personal experience.

Dr Kate Thompson

Dr Kate Thompson

Managing loss and grief with self compassion in crisis settings

Kate is a counselling psychologist with more than 2 decades of experience in psychological therapy, training, and consultancy for clients in a range of settings including refugees and asylum seekers, staff in the international aid sector, expatriate workers and serving military personnel and veterans. A former humanitarian worker herself, she worked for Medecins sans Frontiers and the ICRC.

Karen Abbs

Karen Abbs

Picking up the pieces: dealing with critical incidents, stress and trauma

Karen has worked in the humanitarian and development sectors for over 17 years as a staff wellbeing, safeguarding and MHPSS specialist. She has worked in conflict and post-conflict countries in the Middle East as well as Central and Eastern Africa and has been a practicing therapist for over 20 years, specialising in trauma and critical incident support. Karen's work has included developing and delivering Staff Care Policies, National Mental Health Counsellor Training Frameworks, Staff Wellbeing Training Manuals and large scale MHPSS programmes.

Hitendra Solanki

Hitendra Solanki

An introduction to mindfulness and compassion

Hitendra is a trained mindfulness teacher and mindfulness & wellbeing Adviser at Simply Mindful. He has been active in the development and humanitarian sector now for over 20 years and his experience includes working with Action Against Hunger UK, the Africa Educational Trust, The Bishop Simeon Trust, Disability & Development Partners and Comic Relief. Hitendra is also a Lecturer at London South Bank University, and the Course Director on the MSc Development Studies.

Who is it for?

This course is aimed at professionals who are working in the humanitarian and development sector, all frontline workers within the humanitarian and development field (staff from INGOs, NGOs and UN organisations), as well as students on development and humanitarian courses, and all those who are planning to work in crisis settings.  

Whether you’re working in a small or large organisation, HR, or simply just want to learn new things, you’ll find this course beneficial for you!

Course fees

Course fee: £450

20% Early bird discount if you register until 19 April (£360)

Additional 10% discount for Oxford Brookes University Alumni if registered until 19 April.

Registration deadline: 26 April 2024


"What I loved about the course was that I had an opportunity to interact with experienced professionals who shared practical, evidence-based tools and strategies. I learnt how to practice wellbeing, mindfulness, empathy, resilience and be better equipped to deal with crises. What I’ve learnt during the course can not only be applied in crisis settings but can also help us with individual, social and structural stresses. Therefore, I would recommend this course to professionals working in the humanitarian and development sector as well as to students from any discipline."

Rabeya, Architect and Development Practitioner, Bangladesh 

"The Resilience, Wellbeing and Mental Health Support in Crisis Settings course was extremely helpful to me. The sessions that I attended were extraordinarily relevant and resonant with what I was experiencing at that moment. Despite my previous, decade-long career in healthcare which was focused on preventative health and cultivating the tools of mental well-being in hundreds of clients, humanitarian action has pushed me to the outer limits of attaining this balance in myself. This course affirmed my experience of the challenges we encounter in humanitarian work, provided additional tools that I continue to use daily and also suggested follow up resources to further my wellbeing, as I continue to operate in crisis settings."

Julia, AMANZI - Water to Schools (Founder), United States & South Africa

"What I found particularly helpful were the practical exercises and role plays, which allow you to challenge yourself and grow. There is a sense of building a safe space and network with peers, which is invaluable. There are plenty of resources to go deeper. And the instructors are both knowledgeable and a joy to work with! I would thoroughly recommend this course, as it gives you the tools to apply mental health awareness not just at work but also in personal life."

Martina, External Relations and Communication Consultant, WHO, Italy

Contact us

If you have any enquiries about the course, please email us at: