The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the European Union have launched a project to offer mental health services to over 300,000 people from Ukraine. The project aims to support those who have been exposed to trauma and conflict.
The National Red Cross Societies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have joined forces in a regional initiative to offer mental health services and psychosocial support to over 300,000 people from Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement on Monday, July 18.
The IFRC stressed that the conflict in Ukraine has "exposed people to extremely distressing situations," with many losing loved ones, their homes and jobs, while others have witnessed traumatic events.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and has the technical assistance of the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Center. According to the statement, the project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the five National Societies.
Support is offered in Ukrainian and other languages through various platforms, including helplines, mobile outreach and in-person group activities.
Materials on psychosocial support are also going to be distributed in several languages among mental health professionals and the public.
Exposure to 'extremely distressing situations'
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, over five million people have fled to other countries, and another six million are estimated to be internally displaced, the IFRC said.
The war "has exposed people to extremely distressing situations. Many have lost loved ones, their homes, their jobs, and others have witnessed traumatic events," it added.
According to the WHO, one in five people are affected by mental health disorders in post-conflict settings. "If left without treatment and adequate support, people from Ukraine face long-lasting effects that could harm themselves, their families and communities," the WHO reported.
Nataliia Korniienko, a Ukrainian mental health and psychosocial support delegate with the IFRC, said "Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone." Korniienko was forced to leave Ukraine when the escalation began.
"People are craving for someone to take the time to sit alongside them in their pain, but this is often lacking for many fleeing Ukraine right now," she said.
Since the first days of the conflict, IFRC staff and volunteers have been assisting people at border crossing points, train stations and temporary shelters – listening, showing empathy, and sharing information.
"We try to reach everyone in need in a convenient, personalized way. Assistance will not be limited to just a couple of calls or meetings – a person will receive support as long as we are needed, " said Aneta Trgachevska, the acting head of Health and Care at IFRC Europe.
"This kind of early response can alleviate symptoms and prevent people from developing serious levels of distress or even mental health conditions," she added.