Displaced Ukrainians see huge need for mental health and psychosocial support
World Vision’s implementing partner HealthRight Ukraine provides the most vulnerable with mental health and psychosocial support. This aid helps thousands of Ukrainians handle the consequences of the ongoing war.
“Like all children, my daughter is afraid of explosions and loud noises. I came up with a game to make it easier for her and explain what is going on. However, children are smart, she understood everything immediately,” shares Iryna, a mother of six-year-old Kira.
Iryna’s family was forced to flee their hometown Toretsk, which is in the East of Ukraine in Donetsk region, when massive rocket attacks had begun.
“I want my daughter to live in peace and harmony. That’s why we left. Kira is waiting to return home. She keeps repeating “Mom, we will clean everything there, wash the apartment from dirt, put away the toys. Let us just go back home, please,” tells Iryna.
Unfortunately, more and more children are feeling the effects of the conflict on themselves. They have become sensitive to loud sounds, have problems with sleeping, feel fear and anxiety.
“The children are exhausted. They have no other choices but to spend most of their time in bunkers every day. Teenagers began to distance themselves from their parents, friends, and even the people around them. They are difficult to contact with,” explains Yulia, who works as a child psychologist at HealthRight.
Yulia has organized art therapy classes to help children to cope with stress. Parents are also involved in this process to restore or enhance the connection with their children.
The children are exhausted. They have no other choices but to spend most of their time in bunkers every day. Teenagers began to distance themselves from their parents, friends, and even the people around them.
“I prepare anti-stress drawings for children of all ages. It helps them a lot to cope with stress. After class, moms come up and ask to take more colorings home. Children are distracted from the war in this way,” says Yulia.
According to Yulia, this practice is effective. Psychologists observe positive dynamics of changes in children's behavior. Little Kira is one of 36,518 people who have benefitted from mental health and psychosocial activities organized by World Vision and its local partner HealthRight.
However, children are not the only one who are suffering. Adults are affected by war too, facing challenges with their jobs, raising children and dealing with their personal problems.
“I was not emotionally ready and in terrible stress. I sought the help of a psychotherapist to overcome this stress. I understood that I have no job, lost a house and my children were starting the school year,” shares Olena, a mother of two, who had alredy fled the war twice.
When the full-scale war broke out in February 2022, Olena was sure she could handle the situation. But when a bomb fell near her house, she decided to flee immediately for her children’s sake. She found support from HealthRight’s Mobile Team.
“I am very grateful to the team for their help. Even the smallest help is extremely necessary for us,” tells Olena.
The mental health and psychological support activities that HealthRight and World Vision provide were made possible through the generous support of ACTED Ukraine, USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and Ukraine Response Consortium.
Download your copy of World Vision's No Peace of Mind Report on the looming mental health crisis posed by the Ukraine war.
Story and photos by Oleksandra Shapkina, Communications Officer