Psychosocial well-being depends on many aspects of a person’s life. To achieve happiness and a sense of well-being, people rely on social interaction; mental stimulation (thoughts, ideas and an interest in learning); physical security and safety; and ideological beliefs (religion, spirituality). Their material and biological needs must be met – food, water, shelter, sanitation, physical and mental health. They also need economic stability for one’s family.
Most people affected by a disaster are able to deal with and process the emotions and feelings associated with a traumatic event. However, many displaced people complain that the greatest sources of distress for them after an emergency are the subsequent impacts of a traumatic event on their well-being. For example, difficulty getting food, constraints on generating income or lack of proper shelter or space in a camp can undermine well-being. Therefore, community-based psychosocial support programming needs to take a holistic approach to well-being. The core humanitarian response areas – food; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); shelter; camp management; information dissemination; protection; healthcare etc. – all have psychosocial components that play an important role in helping people heal after a traumatic event. The social aspect of these basic services is, psychologically, very important. The manner in which relief is distributed, how camps are organised and located and the provision of services to an affected population all pay a role in a person’s ability to heal from the disaster.
What does “humanitarian relief through a psychosocial lens” mean? It means that all aid workers – also non-psychosocial professionals - understand that the impact of their work can have a string effect on the affected population’s well-being. Furthermore, psychosocial professionals must be able to communicate these ideas to colleagues from other disciplines. Awareness of the psychosocial component across disciplines will ensure that the wide variety of needs and risk factors that affect well-being are addressed. HIV and AIDS is hereby a very important subject. Workers who assist people being affected by the epidemic directly or indirectly have a strong role in ensuring well-being among those affected.