NGO workers in north prone to high mental stress - study
Posted Thursday, February 7 2013 at 02:00
The war that ravaged northern Uganda for over 20 years may be over now, but it will take long before the people become mentally healthy again.
Findings of a new study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that, for instance, staff working for local humanitarian organisations in the region showed signs of high risk mental health problems.
This, according to the study, is partly due to the environment in which the they work.
The study by researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the mental health of 376 humanitarian workers at 21 aid agencies.
“A significant number of the staff at these organisations experienced high levels of symptoms. Sixty per cent suffered depression, 53 per cent experienced anxiety disorders and 26 per cent experienced post traumatic stress disorder,” the study notes.
The study particularly focused on workers in Gulu, the epicentre of the 20-year-old conflict.
The study notes that workers with organisations such as the United Nations and its related agencies reported fewest overall symptoms. Those working for international NGOs reported significantly more signs of depression.
Based on self-reported symptoms, female workers were more likely to experience anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Financial hardship, uncertainty whether peace will continue, separation from families, and unequal treatment of expatriate and national staff were among those cited for causing the mental health effect.