Recently, we launched a new resource for human rights and social justice advocates to promote resilience, well-being, and mental health. “Resources for Resilience,” created by a team of human rights advocates, academics, and psychologists, with the input and guidance of advocates and organizations around the world, collects together academic research, practical tools, commentary, and programs to promote resilience.
Human rights advocates are often exposed to primary and secondary trauma, abuse, and stressors of many forms. Advocates working to counter abusive counterterrorism and armed conflict practices may, for example, interview torture survivors, review forensic evidence of civilian harm caused by airstrikes, visit sites of detention, and read accounts of families denied entry or detained at the US border. They may be surveilled or even prosecuted for their work, and may directly experience or witness beatings, interrogations, and armed conflict. Advocates in some countries may be threatened or harmed by governments, which sometimes label advocates as terrorists themselves, exposing them to both government abuse and stigma. At the same time, human rights advocates may face reprisal by armed actors for conducting human rights investigations.
This stress and trauma exposure can put human rights advocates at risk of adverse impacts, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These impacts often have further effects, including on family life and the ability of the advocate to do their human rights work. Despite the risks, there has been little research on mental health in the human rights field and there are few tailored trainings. Many advocates and organizations struggle to respond.
“Resources for Resilience” is a platform designed for sharing resources, contributing to efforts to engage in collective learning about how to promote sustainable advocacy practices and a resilient human rights field. We hope this resource will help build a community of practice. We encourage Just Security readers to reach out with additional resources, and we will add them to the new site.