Today, Wednesday 24th August, marks six-months since the Ukrainian conflict began and also coincides with Ukrainian Independence Day. Since the escalation of war, more than 10 million women and children have been negatively impacted, with an estimated one third of Ukrainian refugees expected to develop depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorders. There is an urgent need to provide support to those suffering from ongoing war trauma now and in the months and years to come.
CARE International and our partners are providing support to families, women and children who have seen and experienced the horrors of war in Ukraine. From February to June 2022, CARE and partners have reached over 466,000 people affected by the crisis.
Tetyana, 33, who fled Luhansk with her 12-year-old daughter, said,
I came to Rivne totally broken. I needed help and someone to talk to. With a psychologist, we talked about my primary fear. We did some practical exercises to control my negative thoughts, to stop and turn it to the positive. The first time there were air sirens in Rivne, it was like something switched inside of me. I was so overwhelmed and there were too many emotions. Now I can deal with it better. I can talk about it. The sirens do not scare me as much.”
Tamara, a psychologist with a Ukrainian organisation supported by the Center for Women's Perspective, a CARE partner, said,
Most of my patients either live in the past or in the future. I help them to live in the present. I normally start by letting them explain their fear, maybe let them draw it. Most of my patients are stressed and in shock. I try and decrease their level of fear. I believe there will be a lot of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
CARE and our partners are employing psychosocial workers through organisations in Poland, Ukraine and Romania to provide much-needed support to those impacted by the war, as well as providing relief activities for families and children and information on where to seek further help, including anonymously through hotlines. CARE’s partners have also produced a book that helps people process their feelings and learn useful coping strategies. Not everyone is comfortable speaking directly with a mental health professional, so we have designed a range of activities and approaches to suit different needs.
As mental health needs increase, psychosocial and mental health support must be made available and accessible to affected women, men and children, and treated with the same urgency as meeting physical needs. Lives and futures depend on it.