War in Ukraine having a devastating impact on people's mental health

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By Euronews
Destruction of homes in Ukraine
Destruction of homes in Ukraine   -  Copyright  Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved

Just a few day’s short of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, its estimated that one in every four Ukrainians may suffer from mental health issues because of the ongoing conflict.

The World Health Organisation said this means that some 10 million people will likely experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Ukraine’s government said that more than 60% of its soldiers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and about half of the population needs psychological help to cope with the war.

Support services strained

Presently, it can only care for one-third of them. The ongoing conflict has placed additional pressure on Ukraine’s already strained mental health system, disrupting much needed mental health and psychosocial support services.

In the town of Lviv, a psychiatry department was opened at the Clinical Municipal Communal Emergency Hospital shortly after the war began. Since April last year, more than one thousand people with conflict-related trauma have been treated there.

‘If you asked me six months ago, I would not tell you anything because we were still learning. And we didn't do it by ourselves, but we reached out to went to NATO military hospitals,’ said psychiatrist Oleg Berezyuk.

The first barrier is getting people to ask for help and speak out, he said. From that point on, trauma treatment can begin, both for civilians and soldiers. The objective is to ensure that their mental health problems do not prevent them from continuing to live.