Dear Colleagues, welcome to IOM’s Staff Welfare pages. We hope that you find our material useful. We have information on wellbeing through to problems that some of us may face such as anxiety, depression and addiction. We are all human and fallible at times and may need extra support.

Please contact us if you have any questions, including about the topics below:

  • Understanding and accepting difference – here is an opportunity to review and consider our approaches to mental health. How inclusive are we?  
  • Giving and getting help – how good is your self-care? You can explore this through a presentation which includes advice from colleagues. Managers also have an opportunity, through an online program, to review relevant information in how to recognize and support staff with mental health problems.
  • My wellbeing – how easy it is to forget to look after ourselves as we work to help others. The online programmes on wellbeing and stress management will help you think about how well you look after yourself and have recommendations on enhancing your approach.
  • My mental health – some of us may develop more serious mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance use and adverse reactions to critical incidents. These animations will help you learn more about each one and how to get help.  We also have other online programmes: Deployment, and Robust Emergency Management. We have begun a library of reading material and links on wellbeing and mental health. We also send bulletins regularly. If you have any questions, please contact us at


Our Team

We offer a range of services: individual and confidential sessions, webinars and seminars on various topics such as stress management, coping with uncertainty. Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for your time.

Language Team Member
Spanish Andrea Avila de Garay:
Lindsay Carrera:
Marta Fonseca:
Carmen Perez:
Elizabeth Openshaw:
Portuguese Marta Fonseca:
French Anna Aisenbrey:
Christine Merjanian:
Agathe Ragira:
Elizabeth Openshaw:
German Anna Aisenbrey: 
Elizabeth Openshaw:
Russian Natia Sibashvili:
Farsi (Dari, Tajik) Fardin Shadab: 
Azeri Fardin Shadab: 
Arabic Anna Aisenbrey:
Wahba Hassanein:
Turkish Fardin Shadab: 
Filipino Enola Gay M. Misajon-Pedernal:
Georgian Natia Sibashvili:
Armenian Christine Merjanian:
Swahili Judy Mbuthia:
Hausa Japhet Makama Ayele:
English The whole team For general enquiries:


(in surname alphabetical order)

  • Anna Aisenbrey
    Regional Staff Counsellor MENA

    Anna is a German psychologist whose expertise lies in building the capacity and resilience of staff providing psychosocial support in crisis situations, staff care always being a priority. Besides providing onsite coaching and counseling, she has developed and implemented psychosocial training of trainers, self-care and staff care strategies, as well as psychosocial support quality assurance tools for the monitoring and evaluation of psychosocial support activities, in line with international IASC standards. Backed with a German University double degree in counselling and teaching, she provided psychosocial support for staff as well as children in Lebanon, Jordan (MENA region), Greece and North Africa (Libya, Tunisia) and also created and implemented psychosocial support activities in refugee camps with staff and youth shelters for unaccompanied minors, thereby gaining direct field experience and a plethora of tools and tricks to help support staff working in the field, as well as on higher strategic levels to stabilize and improve their emotional balance and well-being in times of crisis. 


    Language: German, French, Arabic, English

  • Japhet Makama Ayele
    Staff Counsellor Nigeria

    Japhet is a Licensed Scientist/Practitioner Clinical Psychologist registered with Nigerian association of Clinical Psychologist, with a MSc and a PhD in view. He is specialized in Psychological assessment/ testing, Psychotherapy for mental health disorders and maladaptive behaviors.  Japhet has 10 years cumulative professional experience working in mental health settings and humanitarian response. He started working with Katsina state government psychiatric hospital, progressed to the role of psychologist in the Sunshine specialist hospital and the  Apurimac Trauma clinic. He also worked in Médecins du Monde France as Mental health and psychosocial support counsellor and for Save the Children international as Mental health and psychosocial support coordinator, where he set up the MHPSS program. 


    Language: English, Hausa

  • Lindsay Carrera
    Staff Counsellor South Africa

    Lindsay is a community social worker from the United States and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) and Public Policy (MPP). She spent 4 years in East and Southern Africa supporting internationally and locally funded community care projects including gender-based violence reduction and rights-based advocacy organizations. She has worked for the U.S. Government as a trained environmental emergency incident community liaison, and 3 years in underserved populations and chronically-unhoused mental health response. She is based on Pretoria, South Africa. 


    Language: English, Spanish.

  • Andrea Avila De Garay
    Staff Counsellor for South America

    Andrea is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. She has worked for almost thirteen years as a psychotherapist and counsellor. She has participated in different international congresses and published work on gender perspectives in psychotherapy. Since 2013, she has volunteered in different projects that work for human rights and inclusion of the LGBTI community in México, her home country. She worked at the University Tecnológico de Monterrey as the Head of the Counselling Department. Andrea holds a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies, from the University of Cádiz, a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Her work emphasizes a gender perspective and human rights-based approach. 


    Language: Spanish, English

  • Jennifer Fey
    Staff Counsellor for Asia Pacific

    Jennifer is an independent clinical social worker licensed in the U.S. She received her Master of Clinical Social Work degree from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Jennifer has over 15 years of experience working and volunteering in social services and mental health care. She worked as a case manager in refugee resettlement and completed her graduate studies at The Center for Victims of Torture. Her experience includes program management for state and federal funded housing programs in Minnesota for individuals experiencing homelessness and diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness. Prior to joining IOM she was a therapist at a community mental health center and provided online counseling services. Jennifer worked in Southwest China for 2.5 years as an educator and volunteered as a curriculum developer for anti-trafficking projects. She is stationed in Bangkok, Thailand. 


    Language: English

  • Marta Fonseca
    Staff Counsellor for Europe, SEECA & Portuguese Speaking Missions

    Marta is a Brazilian Psychologist since 1996 with a postgraduation in psychoanalysis / clinical psychology and one in human rights. She has always worked as a psychotherapist and has experience in inpatient mental health clinics. During the last ten years, she worked at the Central Bank of Brazil, in the health sector, mainly supervising the staff counsellors’ team and coordinating programs on mental health and wellbeing, conflict management, harassment prevention, good eating habits, and weight loss. Last year, she came to Portugal to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology, on the theme of wellbeing and weight loss through digital intervention. She is passionate about digital health, positive psychology, psychoanalysis, wellbeing, good habits, and health.

    Email: Pending

    Languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish

  • Wahba Hassanein
    Staff Counsellor for Greece

    Wahba has worked as a psychotherapist / trainer with his last assignment in Ethiopia, where he was for 2 years.  He worked for more than five years as a clinical psychologist with MSF dealing with trauma survivors, torture and SGBV survivors. He had spent years working as a psychologist in psychiatric hospitals before joining the humanitarian field.  He has extensive experience in the area of trauma and his  PhD dissertation explored PTSD among refugees. He is a licenced Egyptian psychotherapist from the Egyptian Ministry of Health.

    Email: Pending

    Languages: Arabic, English

  • Judy Mbuthia
    Staff Counsellor for South Sudan

    Judy joined IOM South Sudan on 1st April 2020 as a Staff Counsellor. She is a Clinical Psychologist (University of Nairobi-Kenya; MS. Clinical Psychology). She brings to the team more than 9 years of valuable experience. Ms. Judy has previously worked with UNDSS South Sudan where she supported Agencies Funds and programmes, a mental health specialist in public and private hospitals. As a certified Problem Management Plus trainer, she worked as a Mental Health Program Specialists with non-governmental organizations in Kenya.


    Language: English, Swahili

  • Christine Merjanian
    Staff Counsellor HQ and Global

    Christine is a Trainee Counsellor with Staff Welfare, based in HQ Geneva. Originally from Montreal, Canada, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and is undertaking a practicum at IOM for her Master’s degree in Counseling (Seton Hall University, USA). Her background is in human resources management, including 13 years in the humanitarian sector in the Middle East, with the United Nations and major INGO, advising management on a range of HR matters. She has worked with international and local staff across the region, in complex humanitarian settings (Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank, Gaza and Syria), and has extensive exposure to staff well-being issues of international humanitarian workers and their families. She has a special interest in the specific challenges faced by humanitarian personnel, including compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, PTSD, coping under duress, adjustment issues in deployment/reentry, chronic stress in relief settings, workload/staffing issues, and burnout.   


    Language: English, French, Armenian

  • Enola Gay M. Misajon-Pedernal
    Staff Counsellor for Philippines Country Office

    Enola is a Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology presently doing her dissertation on the topic of burnout, self-coldness, and mental health concerns during a global pandemic at the De La Salle University-Manila.  She holds a master's degree in Applied Social-Cultural Psychology in the same University. Enola Gay's career experience includes 12 years in higher education doing teaching, advising, and individual and group counseling. She was designated as Gender and Development Counselor and OIC-Human Resource Management Officer at Palawan State University. She also worked as Case Manager and Clinician at the Sinag Psychological Services clinic. Enola does consultancy on mental health programs of organizations and companies. Likewise, she conducts trainings and webinars for Local Government Units (LGUs), Philippine Mental Health Association (Palawan Chapter), People Management Association of the Philippines (Palawan Chapter), and Fullbright Philippines for Mental Health of Teachers. On the outbreak of the pandemic, she was involved in volunteering at the Psychosocial Action Services (an initiative of Palawan State University) for distressed frontliners, families, and community members. Enola sees her way into expertise on organizational MHPPS, PFA, and Mental Health Literacy. She advocates on prevention before intervention and does so by doing psychological consultations available and accessible. She had her training in Divine Mercy Psychiatric Facility and National Center for Mental Health doing psychotherapy and psychological assessment. 


    Language: English, Filipino

  • Elizabeth Openshaw
    Senior Staff Welfare Office, HQ, Geneva

    Elizabeth joined the IOM Staff Welfare Team from UNICEF, where she worked as the Regional Staff Counsellor for West and Central Africa.  Born in the UK, Elizabeth’s cultural curiosity and passion to support people working in fragile environments has taken her across the globe.  She has worked for 20 years in education, human rights, development and humanitarian sectors in Europe, Asia and Africa.   Interested in migrant issues, Elizabeth set up a pro-bono counselling service during the peak of the European refugee crisis. An experienced counsellor and trainer, she holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and a degree in Modern Languages. Prior to Covid, Elizabeth was often on a plane conducting extensive field missions to remote and emergency duty stations. She integrated yoga, tai chi, relaxation and fun in her missions and qualified as a yoga teacher.  Since virtual working began, Elizabeth became fascinated by the potential of digital health technologies and became an accredited online therapist and online clinical supervisor. Some of the organisations Elizabeth has worked for include: the British Council, RedR, the International Service for Human Rights, Voluntary Services Overseas, Dept For International Development (DfID), Ministry of Education in Ethiopia, International Rescue Committee, Peace Brigades International, the British Foreign Office and the Conflict Security and Stablisation Fund.


    Language: English, French, German, Spanish

  • Carmen Pérez de las Heras
    Staff Counsellor for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean Region Staff Counsellor for Las Canteras Emergency Reception Facility (ERF) on Tenerife

    Carmen is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist with over 15 years of experience in MHPSS services, covering a wide range of topics. She has volunteered with children with ASD, with adolescents and young adults in drug use prevention, with people living with HIV/AIDS, providing assistance to victims of crime, and in emergency settings; 2007 flood in Tabasco; 2009 Swine flu pandemic in Mexico City; 2017 earthquake in Mexico City; And presently, with front line healthcare workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    On a professional level, she implemented the first MHPSS Program for Law Enforcers and Corrections Officers of the Mexican Ministry of Public Security, and later extended the program to cover all staff as well as their families’ psychosocial needs. Since 2014 she became a MHPSS and Wellbeing Program Manager Advisor for both, public and private organizations. 
    Carmen holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and she is trained in Systemic Therapy, Postmodern Brief Therapies, Art Therapy, Crisis Intervention, and Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence.


    Languages: Spanish, English

  • Agathe Ragira
    Staff Counsellor for East and Horn of Africa

    Agathe holds a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Kampala University and a Bachelor’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Kampala International University. She has over 20 years of clinical experience across a variety of settings including inpatient psychiatric, outpatient specialty clinics, crisis intervention, NGOs and United Nations entities. Agathe has conducted numerous training programs and seminars for married couples, single people, youth and families.  She is a board member of the Rwanda Professional Counselors Organisation (ARCT Ruhuka). 


    Language: French, English

  • Fardin Shadab
    Staff Counsellor for MENA and SEECA

    Fardin is an Iranian Clinical Psychologist with years of experience in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). He has implemented psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents (Bam Earthquake Iran) and UNDP Somalia providing family-based assistance for traumatized ex-combatants with psychiatric symptoms. He has further international experience in designing and implementing psychosocial interventions in Kenya (Dadaab Refugee Camp, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Iraq). Fardin has also supervised, advised and trained staff who use psychosocial interventions. 


    Language: Farsi, Dari, Tajik, Azeri, Turkish, English

  • Natia Sibashvili
    Staff Counsellor Asia Pacific

    Natia is a Georgia based staff counsellor and has a master’s degree in social work with a mental health focus from Washington University in St. Louis, United States. Natia has thirteen years of experience in the field working in Central and Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, and the United States. She has worked with families and children in conflict-affected areas, alternative care, and internally displaced people. During her experience at Columbia University Child Psychiatric Epidemiology Group, Natia was working to study how stress affects families and consequent mental health impact of stress on adults and children. Natia also has experience in psychosocial program management and development as well as teaching at Tbilisi State University.


    Language: Russian, Georgian, English