the price of courage: ukraine's unfolding mental health crisis

April 2022

Edna Fernandes, Co-Founder / Director

The war in Ukraine is now in its third month and not a day has gone by without the world being struck by the courage of the Ukrainian people. The courage of its President; ordinary men who’ve signed up to fight and die for freedom; the courage of women, children and elderly who must build new lives as refugees. The price of their courage is likely to be a mental health crisis on a scale possibly not seen since WW2.

The Ukraine war has led to 10 million refugees fleeing home, according to the United Nations. The UN reported that one child per second has become a refugee. The British medical journal The Lancet reported on its website that while it is too early to predict the outcome of this conflict, one thing is clear: the impact on Ukrainians’ mental health will be huge.

Lancet reports significant risk to mental health

Particularly because many of the combatants are ordinary civilians: sons, fathers, grandfathers and brothers. They leave behind loved ones who were unprepared for what has fallen upon them. The Lancet said: “significant mental health costs will result. War-affected civilians are at heightened risk of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.”

The Lancet cited that data from the World Health Organisation Mental Health Surveys showed recovery from PTSD is particularly slow in the context of war. This will be heightened in this particular case due to the fact that many of the combatants are untrained civilians who are also worried about their loved ones who are scattered in exile. Who knows where they will land.

Mental health support needed now

The Ukrainian refugees are also suffering. Having already lost family, home and country, many women are reported to have been victims of violence and rape. Children have witnessed atrocities no innocent should ever see. Yet psychological support on the ground is inadequate.

Beyond Conflict was founded in 2018 because we believe there is an urgent and overwhelming need for mental health support for civilians and frontline workers in conflict scenarios. Our work to date has helped train aid workers serving the refugees in Bangladesh who fled the 2017 Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. We’ve also supported work in Iraq for widows and orphans afflicted by years of war.

Donate now to our Ukraine Appeal

Now we are raising money to support frontline agencies delivering mental health support for Ukrainian refugees. We’ve already given several thousand pounds to frontline agencies via the DEC Appeal and in Poland and we are asking for your help to send more (see links to donate and support below).

Beyond Conflict believes there can be no lasting peace unless the psychological fallout of war and displacement is addressed. Trauma can reverberate down the generations unless treated.

While many major charities right now are focused on delivering general aid, we are focused on the Ukrainian people’s mental health needs. BC is targeting funds to frontline aid agencies delivering counselling and other mental health support via their refugee reception centres in neighbouring countries like Poland. We are helping connect those agencies to pro-bono psychiatrists in the UK who can assist. We are a voluntary charity, so 100% of your money goes to the cause.

The price of Ukraine’s courage is being levied on its mental health. Please support our appeal so we can help those suffering from trauma and PTSD on the refugee frontline. Together we can: Heal Minds, Change Lives and Restore Hope.

Thank you.

We are asking for your help

Donate here!

The Lancet Psychiatry, March 16 2022

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