Mental health in Ukraine: An issue that can no longer be ignored

Ukrainian refugees hugging each other at a checkpoint on the border of Slovakia. Ukrainian refugees hugging each other at a checkpoint on the border of Slovakia. Fotoreserg

13 September 2022

As the devastating war in Ukraine continues to unfold, mental health among displaced civilians has become an urgent concern.

 

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, nearly 6,000 civilians have been killed and over 8,000 have been injured. As of July 2022, over 12 million Ukrainians had fled their home. Seven months of warfare, displacement, and loss has taken a deeply damaging mental toll on civilians; the World Health Organization has observed increasing cases of trauma-induced stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. 

In interviews with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Ukrainian patients recounted the traumatizing scenes they had to live through, such as Alla, who was displaced from the Kherson region; “There was shelling every minute, every second – day and night. Every missile was a roll of the dice, they hit places randomly and people died.” 

Yehvenia, also from the Kherson region, had Russian soldiers invade and live in her home, forcing her family to stay in the basement for a month and a half. During that time, her son was killed in Kryvyi Rih and her husband was shot in the back, left to recover in the basement without treatment. Now that she has fled her home, she reflects on the past few months with sorrow, “We are recovering, but we can’t forget what we went through.”

Ukrainians are witnessing countless traumatizing scenes that are unimaginable to someone who has not been faced with such a conflict. Recovering from this trauma and loss poses great difficulty, as the risk of death and disaster is still omnipresent. MSF has provided thousands of mental health consultations, helping patients “regain some level of control in a very uncontrollable and uncertain situation.” It is crucial that we continue to recognize and put efforts towards the war’s effects on mental health, as it will surely prove to have lasting impacts on civilians.

To read more, please visit:

by Nicole Piusienski

Read 24 times