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Displaced and burdened by underfunded mental health: the plight of minors in Ukraine

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MADRID, August 13 (by Phiona Koyiet, Senior Technical Advisor for Mental Health and Picosocial Support at World Vision) –

It has been said that this is a ‘boys and girls war’, but the true meaning of that statement is only just beginning to emerge. More than two-thirds of Ukrainian minors have had to leave their homes since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, some of them were left to their fate abroad.

They have said goodbye to their parents, left their friends, schools and belongings behind, and have been exposed to the horrible things people can do to one another.

Your experiences over the past five months have had a devastating impact on your mental health and well-being; an unfortunate legacy that, without proper support, could last a lifetime.

As in many armed conflicts, children are the hardest hit by wars. Children have been cut off from their support networks, suffered injuries, witnessed death and destruction, and experienced the greatest tragedy of all, the loss of loved ones.

Unfortunately, these experiences predispose them to the risk of mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. And the horrifying toll, which to date includes more than 800 children killed or injured, only increases as the war drags on as many families remain trapped in areas subjected to constant bombardment.

In conflict-affected areas of Ukraine, access to water, food, shelter and security is often limited or non-existent. Even those who have moved to neighboring countries and go to bed after eating and finding accommodation are at risk of mental and emotional problems trying to navigate a foreign place using a language they do not understand . .

As many children have said to the staff of one of the Happy Bubble children’s spaces we manage in Romania: “It’s fun to come here. But I just want to go home.”

WHAT CAN HAPPEN

In our last report, No Peace of Mind, it was stated that the number one concern of Ukrainian parents is their children’s mental health. He warns of the impending crisis if immediate action is not taken in Ukraine and in the host countries.

Studies conducted in conflict zones are worrying: it is estimated that one in five people (22.1%) will develop depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Mental wounds from the war in Ukraine could affect 1.5 million children into adulthood and result in a mentally disturbed workforce within 15 years if no action is taken now.

We know that these types of disorders affect children’s growth and development and that they slow down brain development and life prospects. That is why we call for urgent interventions to protect this future generation.

As first responders, one of our top priorities has been meeting the basic needs and services of children and families such as food and shelter, which are critical to psychosocial well-being. Our employees act, supported by decades of experience in emergencies, and are always committed to a dignified, safe and socially responsible way of providing services.

We also offer Psychological First Aid training to all implementing partners so those who help directly are equipped with skills to provide supportive responses to someone who is in distress and needs assistance and to direct them to the right services.

LACK OF FUNDS

But while several organizations, including World Vision, have acted quickly to address the mental health needs of children and their caregivers, the capacity to respond is limited.

Pre-conflict Ukraine had a high psychological burden and spending on mental health and psychosocial support is not as high on the humanitarian agenda as it should be. Spending just $50 per person 4 now could prevent more than a million people affected by conflict from developing more complex mental health problems.

We urge donors, funding organizations and governments to increase their financial support and commitment to mental health and emergency psychosocial support (Emergency Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) 5 interventions for Ukrainian refugees, especially children, to address their immediate, medium and long-term needs Mental health and psychosocial needs concept.

Both minors in Ukraine and in neighboring countries should be encouraged. Adequate and timely funding for mental health interventions will help save the well-being of Ukraine’s future generation.

Let’s help this next generation not only survive this war, but build a bright future.

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Source europapress.es

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