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 Jaime Abad:
Marta Fonseca:
Carmen Perez:
Elizabeth Openshaw:
Portuguese Marta Fonseca:
French Anna Aisenbrey:
Christine Merjanian:
Agathe Ragira:
Elizabeth Openshaw:
Filipino Jennylyn Narvas:
German Anna Aisenbrey: 
Elizabeth Openshaw:
Frishta Kewe:
Russian Natia Sibashvili:
Arabic Anna Aisenbrey: 
Wahba Hassanein:
Frishta Kewe:
Georgian Natia Sibashvili:
Armenian Christine Merjanian:
Swahili Judy Mbuthia:
Hausa Japhet Makama Ayele:
English The whole team
For general enquiries:
Serbian Sonja JANKOVIC
Diana Ridic
Bosnian Diana Ridic
Montenegrin Diana Ridic
Croatian Sonja JANKOVIC
Italian Sonja JANKOVIC
Kurdish Frishta Kewe:
Swedish Frishta Kewe:
Danish Frishta Kewe:


(in surname alphabetical order)

  • Abad, Jaime
    Staff Counsellor for South America based in Panama

    Jaime is a mental health professional with more than 20 years of experience. Initially born in Colombia, he migrated to New Zealand, where he obtained his qualifications as a psychologist and registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board (NZPB). Throughout his career, he has worked for a variety of organizations including humanitarian, both in and off the field, local and international NGOs, and as a private practitioner. He is also a qualified supervisor and has more than 10 years of experience providing support to staff and other professionals. Over the years Jaime has gained knowledge and experience in specific areas of interest such as staff wellbeing (Master’s thesis published in 2011), refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Populations), mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in emergency settings, along with prevention of suicide and self-harm, violence and abuse, trauma, youth offending, and alcohol and drugs abuse.


    Languages: Spanish, English

  • Anna Aisenbrey
    Regional Staff Counsellor for Middle East North Africa

    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 for 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 

  • Vung Dim Cing (Roseland Vung)
    Intern Staff Counsellor for Myanmar

    Roseland worked as a helpline operator in Little Emotions Helpline in Myanmar, which started during the pandemic funded by UNICEF. She also helped with MHPSS activities during crisis situations. She has experience of tele-counselling and facilitating self-help youth group activities. As a university student, she co-created Support for All to assist emotional support for adolescents and youths particularly in Mae Sot, Thailand where Myanmar migrants and their children are working and studying. Roseland enjoys listening to others’ life stories and experiences and she believes in creating a space that is emotionally safe for all. Roseland is devoted to the community development process in Myanmar and joins the research program at Community Leadership and Research Institute to pursue her future life goals.


    Languages: English, Burmese

  • Jen Ferraren-Narvas
    Staff Counsellor for Philippines Country Office

    Jen Ferraren-Narvas is a Licensed Master in Social Work in New York State and a registered social worker in the Philippines. She obtained her master’s degree from New York University. Her training focuses on mental health with children and families. Her expertise is in helping individuals, children, and families to overcome trauma, loss, and difficult life transitions. She worked in the South Bronx, New York, as a child and parent psychotherapist to families at risk of separation. She was also a psychiatric social worker for children and youth who experienced emotional and behavioral crises. She has extensive experience in the treatment of those diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety Disorders, PTSD and ADHD. She was a former Executive Director of a resource agency caters to corporate and individual volunteers. She was part-time lecturer at university under the Institute of Arts and Sciences teaching Migration and Family courses and was an on-call counselor that provides onsite employee assistance program (EAP) and counseling services to corporate employees. She designs and facilitates trainings and development sessions to cater to their mental health needs.


    Languages: Visayan, Filipino, 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.


    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.


    Languages: Arabic, English

  • Sonja Jankovic
    Staff Counsellor for Germany

    Sonja is an Australian registered Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist that has worked for over a decade in various public and private settings offering individual and group therapy including within the Royal Adelaide Hospital Chronic Pain Unit; The Australian Department of Veterans Affairs; Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide and private practice. During the last four years, she has been based in Europe working for L’ente Ospedaliero Cantonale in Lugano, Switzerland, where she is also registered as a psychologist, as well as the UN organisations based in Rome, Italy. Sonja has a holistic style when it comes to therapy as she works by incorporating the values that an individual has with a wide range of therapeutic approaches that will assist them in meeting their goals. She is trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, EMDR Level 2 and Clinical Hypnosis.


    Languages: English, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Italian.

  • 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 has 17 years’ experience in the UN and other international organizations in the areas of human resources management and staff counselling. Originally from Montreal, Canada, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Counselling. She has spent over a decade in the humanitarian sector in the Middle East, advising management on a range of HR matters and supporting international and local staff across the region, including in complex humanitarian settings. She has gained extensive exposure to the well-being issues of international humanitarian workers and their families and has counselled staff and dependents from over 40 nationalities. Christine initially joined IOM in May of 2021 to undertake her Practicum for her Master’s degree and has now joined as of June 13, 2022 as Staff Counsellor, on part-time basis. Christine 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/re-entry, chronic stress in relief settings, workload/staffing issues, and burnout.


    Language: English, French, Armenian

  • 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

  • Diana Ridic
    Staff Counsellor for Bosnia & Herzogovia

    Diana is registered as a Cognitive Behaviour Psychotherapist and supervisor at the EABCT and National Association. She currently works as SWO Counsellor in B&H IOM Mission. Diana studied Psychology at the University of Sarajevo, B&H and completed her MSc on Cross-cultural & Migration psychology issues. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychotherapy presently doing her dissertation on the topic of ruptures in psychotherapy process at the University of Sarajevo. She has worked as a CBT therapist and supervisor for more than a decade. In humanitarian setting she worked as coordinator for psychosocial activities for persons under international protection and migrants, PFA educator, and AVRR team member for assessment psychosocial assessment and social/medical escort. She is trained on a variety of techniques, clinical assessment tools and psychotherapy interventions as Schema, EMDR, ACT, MCBT and Compassion Focus Approach. She runs the official education for CBT in B&H and is an official representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Association for Behaviour and Cognitive Therapies. Actively devoted to clinical work and focused on research in psychotherapy processes, she is published in the fields of CBT and psychology of migration. Diana lives in Sarajevo, likes to travel, meet with friends and spend quality time with her family.


    Languages: English, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin

  • Amal Shire
    Intern Staff Counsellor for East and Horn of Africa

    Amal is currently a Graduate Student in the Counselling Psychology Program at the United States International University- Africa (USIU-A). Prior to moving to Nairobi, she lived in Canada where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Science (BSc.) in Psychology and worked with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM Inc.) for 7 years, supporting newcomer families from refugee backgrounds integrate into Canadian life as well as gain access to equitable public and private benefits. Amal was involved with several networks such as Empower Manitoba whose aim was to create a framework for financial sustainability for newcomer and refugee families. Here in Nairobi. Amal worked with Green String Network, an organization that uses healing centered peace building approaches.


    Languages: English, Somali

  • Natia Sibashvili
    Staff Counsellor Asia Pacific

    Natia is a Georgia based staff counsellor with 14 years of experience in the field working in Central and Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, Asia and the Pacific and the United States. Natia joined staff welfare team in Asia and the Pacific one and a half years ago and has now transitioned to support IOM Ukraine and SEEECA region. Natia has a master’s degree in social work with a mental health focus from Washington University in St. Louis, United States. 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 has worked for multiple INGOs and national association in the capacity of program manager, psychosocial program development advisor, program quality auditor, trainer, consultant, mental health professional and a lecturer at Tbilisi state University. She has experience of working with diverse groups such as internally displaced people and refugees, children, youth and caregivers in alternative care, older adults and those with disabilities. Natia speaks English, Georgian and Russian languages and is looking forward to support wellbeing of staff members in the region.


    Language: Russian, Georgian, English