Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.
Man-made and so called natural hazards can cause significant amounts of destruction impacting the environment, livelihoods and health of the population as well as their psychological wellbeing. Additionally, environmental factors following a traumatic event include recurring exposure to upsetting reminders of the trauma, additional adverse life events, financial or other losses related to the trauma. Inappropriate social support post-trauma can also impact someone recovering from a hugely traumatic event.
People who are living with disabilities, chronic health conditions, terminal illness, disabilities, loneliness, social exclusion, conflict, discrimination and displacement are all significantly more likely to require mental health support.
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
Untrained staff can unintentionally exacerbate environmental harm and negatively impact the community and individuals’ wellbeing and mental health. Additional staff can increase air pollution if additional travel is required.
Training and orienting staff and volunteers on how to offer and effectively provide psychological first aid can help ensure the appropriate treatment of patients and healthcare services. Staff needs to be properly trained in order to ensure adequate patient treatment and referral, if needed, to further psychological support services. Training and orienting staff on psychological first aid can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical treatments and thus eliminate unnecessary use of medical supplies and technologies. Additionally, orienting local staff instead of bringing in international volunteers or staff helps increase local ownership and capacities whilst reducing environmental air pollution due to travel.
Properly train local staff on psychological first aid so they are equipped to be the first line of support to crisis-affected populations.
UNICEF responding to the Covid-19 spread in Yemen demonstrated that there were existing trained health staff available in the community who could be incentivised to return to work in the public health sector and help reduce the spread of the disease. Their refresher training included environmental determinants of health.