Humanitarian aid workers are under unprecedented pressure. With crises from Ebola in West Africa to the plight of Syrians refugees and the earthquake in Haiti, over the past decade protracted conflicts, medical emergencies and climate change have almost doubled the number of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world – and worldwide refugee numbers are only rising.

The increase in need is taking an enormous toll on those serving on the front lines:

79% of aid workers are suffering a mental health issue.*

The Garrison Institute’s CBR Project helps aid workers to combat “burnout” – the word they use in crisis contexts all across the world to describe the symptoms three in every four of them will experience: anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, panic attacks and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD).

“It was a transformative retreat, and I’ve found the tools we learned to be so helpful, particularly during this fear-driven moment in time. I look forward to continuing the journey.”

Aid workers – so used to feeling traumatized, isolated and alone – have described the CBR Training as “transformative” and “life changing.”

Designed by a team including meditation leader Sharon Salzberg and psychologists from Doctors Without Borders, the CBR (Contemplative-Based Resilience) training program provides aid workers with knowledge, tools and skills including meditation and yoga to better cope with the enormous strain of delivering lifesaving care in some of the world’s most unstable and difficult environments.

“We are committed to creating a space where humanitarian aid workers can draw on the compassion that brought them to this work in first place.”


*Source: November 2015 survey by the Guardian Newspaper.