Front line aid worker, therapist & mental health first aid instructor
Hello, this is me
So, here is a bit about my background and how I came to be a mental health first aid trainer.
It's a family joke that I've had a career in the most literal sense of the word. For the last 15-20 years I've been a frontline disaster responder, specialising in sudden onset emergencies (natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes ). I worked mostly for the UN, and my technical field is communications and community engagement (I'm a former UN spokesperson). My postings include Indonesia (Aceh), Sudan, Haiti, Philippines and HQ work in New York and Geneva. I've also worked on several epidemics, primarily cholera and Ebola (and of course COVID). These days I work mostly from London as a consultant. I also retrained as a mental health specialist: I completed degree in therapy with Mentanoia, qualifying me to practice as a professional therapist, and then as a Mental Health First Aid instructor with MHFA England. Recent clients include the Foreign Office, DFID, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UKMED, CrisisCast, the DEC and RedR. I am also the founder and lead administrator of the Fifty Shades of Aid group, an independent aid worker support community on Facebook.
My specialities include all aspects of mental health in crises - psychological first aid, mental health crisis management, handling high risk situations and providing pre and post mission training for those going overseas. I specialise in staff care: as a former frontline responder and survivor of burnout and other associated disorders, I feel strongly about providing practical, realistic tools for aid workers and organisations to help support staff welfare.
Prior to being an aid worker I was a journalist, working for the BBC World Service (producer and editor for five years), and writing for The Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Economist and The Telegraph among others. I still write the occasional piece.