Human Rights Resilience Project

The Human Rights Resilience Project is an interdisciplinary research initiative co-led by Professor Margaret Satterthwaite, CHRGJ Faculty Director and Co-Chair, in collaboration with Professor Sarah Knuckey of Columbia Law School and Professor Adam Brown of Sarah Lawrence University and NYU School of Medicine. Since 2015, a research team of human rights lawyers and psychologists have been working to document, raise awareness, and develop culturally-sensitive training programs to promote well-being and resilience among human rights workers. The project is grounded in the belief that the well-being of human rights activists is essential for sustainable movements.

The project’s initial phase consisted of an online survey of human rights workers based in dozens of countries. An analysis of survey results, published in December 2015, found high rates of adverse mental health impacts among the 346 respondents. Of those studied, 19% appeared to have PTSD, 19% had significant symptoms associated with PTSD, 15% seemed to be experiencing depression, and 19% reported burnout – rates comparable to those found among first responders and combat veterans.

With a grant from Open Society Foundations, the research team is currently mapping the ways in which human rights organizations manage and deal with the chronic stress, vicarious trauma, and trauma associated with the work. The aim is to understand the well-being challenges and opportunities in the human rights field, and the resources and approaches that human rights groups and organizations have found to be useful in protecting the well-being and mental health of their staff and volunteers.

People
Margaret L. Satterthwaite
CHRGJ Faculty Director & Co-Chair
Director, Global Justice Clinic
Professor of Clinical Law
Ria Singh Sawhney
Research Fellow, Human Rights Resilience Project
Deborah Alejandra Popowski
CHRGJ Executive Director
Lúcia Nader
Scholar in Residence
Mental Health and Well-Being Series
Related Documents
Articles and Chapters
July 20, 2018
Trauma, Depression, and Burnout in the Human Rights Field: Identifying Barriers and Pathways to Resilient Advocacy
View Document
Articles and Chapters
July 18, 2017
Coping flexibility predicts post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in human rights advocates
View Document
Commentary
May 11, 2017
Ready for anything: how preparation can improve trauma recovery
View Document
Related News
Announcements
May 21, 2018
Human Rights Resilience Project Launches New Website
View Post
Press Coverage
March 12, 2018
Researching Resilience: Margaret Satterthwaite ’99 examines the effects of human rights work on the mental health of advocates
NYU School of Law
View Post
Press Coverage
November 7, 2017
The High Cost of Caring
Psychology Today
View Post
Related Events
February 14, 2018
Building Resilience for Social Justice: A Skills Workshop
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