Dates and venue : May 18 to 22, 2020 in Barcelona. 

International Training Course on Mindfulness and Self-care in Humanitarian and Fragile Contexts

While it seems that mental health issues among professionals working in humanitarian and fragile contexts are very much present, these issues seem to be yet invisible. As stated by Antares 2013 report, 30% of aid workers have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. BREATHE International field experience working on humanitarian staff self-care in Colombia, South Sudan and Bangladesh for Mercy Corps and IOM and some other reports focusing on humanitarian and aid workers (national and international) in South Sudan and Uganda show that those professionals experience substantial levels of chronic stress, anxiety, depression and burnout.

In front of this alarming reality, the stigma remains high and the measures to prevent and deal with mental illnesses stay very low. From larger NGOs, intergovernmental organizations to grassroots entities face the challenge to have limited access to be provided with the relevant instruments to handle such situations. In those same studies, factors contributing to mental health issues include the traumatic situations faced by the humanitarian and aid workers and volunteers as well as the lack of support and structures in place.

Mindfulness is a mental training and personal development practice that links concentration exercises with self-observation in order to deepen our personal and social awareness. It was popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn since 1979, and has generated increased worldwide interest since then.

A repeated mindful awareness practice, like the intentional observation of the natural breath or the deliberate examination of our thoughts, emotions, mental states and the place these has in the body helps, with a trauma sensitive guidance, to develop a more balanced and focused presence. This promotes self-awareness and self-regulation, two fundamental qualities that constitute the base for a great number of social-emotional competencies. Ultimately, mindfulness practice promotes a state of open and non-judgmental awareness in which processes of acceptance and healing can occur within people engaging with the practice.


The main objective of the training is to strengthen competencies of personal development practice and self-awareness, life skills, mental health and human connection through the acquisition of the practice of mindfulness and the ability to incorporate and replicate the practice within the current work of the participants.

Self-awareness: Opening up to new perspectives about who we are.
Encouraging consciousness about our own being: about our lives, needs, desires, emotions, behaviours, values, visions, habits, strengths and struggles. Becoming aware of how we relate to ourselves through our body and the observation of the mind.

Life skills: Strengthening the resources we need to direct our lives.
Developing practical life skills such as our intentional presence and focus, emotional awareness, or resilience and self-regulation in the face of difficulties. Using these skills as a driver for conscious decision-making and self-directed personal growth.

Mental health: Feeling comfortable with ourselves.
Strengthening physical and mental wellbeing through healthier stress management, self-care practices and the healing of trauma; fostering a sense of inner calm and harmony; developing greater self-compassion and connection to life; and rediscovering joy, purpose and inner freedom.

Human connection: Feeling at home in our shared humanity.
Nurturing empathy, compassion and care for ourselves and others, developing active listening skills to connect more deeply as well as building and maintaining healthy human relationships in all domains of our lives. Learning to see our commonalities before our differences.

For whom is this course?

The course is addressed to mid-career and senior staff at multilateral agencies, governments, NGOs, foundations, universities, in particular (but not only) working with populations affected by violent conflicts and extremism, war or genocides, gender-based violence, environmental disasters, trauma, refugees and internally displaced persons, among others. Individuals working or having an interest in mindfulness sensitive trauma are also welcome.

Organized by

The Barcelona International Peace Center (BIPC) jointly with BREATHE International

More info

Mindfulness 20 – Full course description, registration and fees

Mindfulness 20 – Application Form

Related links

BREATHE International

RESPIRA en España