02 Nov 2021
By: Jale Richard

Every day, we are met with demands stemming from work, relationships, financial pressures, and other stressful situations—all posing a real or perceived challenge to a person’s well-being.

For Sarah Jukudu, an employee of South Sudan’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management (MHADM), January and February are her worst months of the year.

“Nights are longer, and days are shorter,” as she worries whether she will raise enough money to pay school fees she says.

“When it comes to that time of the year [January and February], I get so much stress because I feel unable to get money for my brother’s children,” says the 27-year-old, who is raising three of her brother’s children.

Ms. Jokudu is one of about 40 staff members of the Ministry who attended a stress management at workplace training, offered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of a joint initiative between the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support and Shelter and Settlement Units.

It followed a similar session conducted last month for the Ministry’s support staff to help them learn how to prevent and cope with stress in the workplace.

Sarah Jokudu shares her story. Photo: IOM 2021/Jale Richard.

Jokudu, who works as an inspector, says her stress stems from the economic hardships the country is facing.

The Director for Planning and Gender Focal Point at the Ministry, also faces stressful situations in the workplace.

As a gender focal person, Mr. James Bol deals with balancing between women and men when selecting them to implement projects with the ministry’s partners. This ends up with his male counterparts accusing him of “favoring women.”

“It is very hard. Females themselves might also say ‘why do you choose the other person, but not me?’”

James Bol tells his story.

While sharing tips on how to manage stress, IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support acting Programme Manager, Shushania Nino encouraged everyone to always pay attention to their senses when feeling uneasy.

“You need to understand what you are experiencing. What is happening to you, why you are having such an emotion,” she says.

“Sometimes we have this feeling that something is wrong, please pay attention to it.”

Shushania Nino, IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programme Officer, facilitates the training. Photo: IOM 2021/Jale Richard.

She further notes that practicing relaxation techniques, like breathing deeply, muscular relaxation, would help.

“Rely on your support system, it is important to have friends and a cycle of colleagues to manage your work-related stress,” Nino advises.

The Director-General for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation at the Ministry, Lawrence Akola, says the training opened his eyes to some of the daily stressors.

“I had so many stresses, I did not know the types and how to manage them, but today, I have passed the test,” Akola says.

“Understanding the types of stresses, causes and how to manage them will help us so much,” he adds while closing the training.

IOM’s Shelter and Settlement and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) activities are supported by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), and South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF).

This story was written by Jale Richard, IOM South Sudan’s Media and Communications Assistant.