Lending a Helping Hand: How to Support Your Colleagues in the Aftermath of the Türkiye and Syria Earthquake

15 Feb ‘23
4 min
Stress and anxiety
Editorial Board OpenUp
Two women supporting each other

The aftermath of a natural disaster such as an earthquake can be a traumatic experience for those affected, both personally and in the workplace. The recent events in Türkiye and Syria have been a source of great concern and stress for many. The impact of natural disasters can be felt by all, even those who are not directly affected by the events. As an employer or a leader, it is crucial to understand the impact such events can have on mental health and provide support to your coworkers who may be struggling with the current situation.


Here are some ways to support your colleagues in the wake of natural disasters and help them cope emotionally and psychologically.


1. Proactively offer support


As a manager, it’s crucial to be proactive in providing support to your employees during times of crisis or stress, such as in the aftermath of an earthquake. Make an effort to give them the space and attention they need to share their situation. This approach can also help to create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated.


2. Acknowledge their feelings


Acknowledge that everyone reacts differently to challenging situations and each reaction is valid. Offer them support by simply listening to their experiences and allowing them to talk about their feelings. This can help them to process their emotions and feel heard. Let them know that you are there for them and that they can reach out to you any time they need to talk.


3. Be empathetic and listen


Instead of offering solutions or advice, try to be empathetic, ask questions and listen. Understand why your colleague or employee feels the way they do and what you can do to help. Simply being there to listen can be incredibly helpful and help to alleviate some of their stress.


4. Foster a supportive work environment


Create a work environment that is supportive and acknowledges the needs of those affected by the earthquake. Encourage your colleagues to take breaks if they need them, and offer flexible work schedules and deadlines, if possible. Encourage open communication and try to check in with them regularly. You can also offer to help with their workload or arrange for a peer support group for those who have been impacted. Kindness and understanding can go a long way.


5. Offer long-term support and provide resources


An earthquake has consequences that can last over time. That is why it is important to continue to support your colleagues even after the situation seems to have stabilised. If you notice that they are struggling with their mental health, provide them with resources that can help. Encourage your colleagues to take advantage of these services: offer to assist them in finding a psychologist or a support group and provide information on how they can access further help.


👉 Consultations with our psychologists are available in twenty-two languages, including Turkish & Arabic.

In addition to these steps, as a manager or leader, there are several further actions you can take to support your colleagues:


  • Encourage self-care: Encourage your colleagues to prioritise their well-being, take breaks when needed, and engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief.
  • Offer time off: Consider offering paid time off or a leave of absence for those who may need it, to help them recover from the aftermath of the disaster.
  • Organise a fundraiser: Consider organising a fundraiser or collecting donations to support relief efforts in the affected areas.
  • Provide training: Provide training and resources to help your colleagues understand the effects of natural disasters on mental health, and how to support one another during difficult times.



As employers, leaders and human beings, it’s important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding and do what you can to support your colleagues during this challenging time.


By taking these steps, you can help create a supportive and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

Get informed and donate

The below links are useful sources of information regarding the current situation in Türkiye and Syria and are reliable local initiatives to donate to.


  • UNICEF: Unicef is ready to provide humanitarian aid: to provide shelter for families without a roof over their heads, to supply clinics with medicines and equipment, to restore sanitary facilities, and to set up temporary classrooms for children.
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is already working in both affected countries. In Türkiye, Turkish Red Crescent teams have been deployed to ten provinces with stocks of food and basic relief items. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is on the ground supporting search and rescue operations and providing first aid. 
  • Doctors Without Borders: Doctors Without Borders’ teams are mobilised, particularly in Syria. The NGO has provided immediate support to 23 health facilities in Idlib and Aleppo governorates, donating emergency medical kits and providing medical staff. A needs assessment is also underway in Türkiye.