Doctors with Africa CUAMM has gathered 113 participants in Chernivsti for the first weekend of a 5 months-long programme on mental health. The weekend was dedicated to provide refugees, IDPs and host communities representatives with a variety of activities ranging from art therapy to handcraft to animation counting with the participation of both adults and children supported by a team of 10 professionals: 1 psychologist for the adult sessions, 1 psychologist for the children and 8 social workers.

The mental and psychological support session for adults was held by a specialized professional who introduced the participants to the concepts of “stress”, “burnout”, and “psychological stability” to then provide them with useful techniques to cope with stressful situations and reduce the impact of stress. The theoretical part was balanced with practical exercises and group discussions. Participants were also helped in identifying both leading causes of stress as well as things that make them feel good in order to design coping strategies.

In a separate room, a safe environment for children was created for them to freely express their emotions. The professionals engaged them in different and simultaneous art therapy activities (drawing, quilling, modeling Play-Doh) and let children move freely from one activity to the other. The psychologist played an active role in approaching children. Under her supervision and through the activities promoted, they offered children emotional support and relief.

«These sessions provide critical emotional support and stability, helping individuals navigate the trauma and uncertainty they face daily.
However, the challenges are immense. Many children and adults are dealing with severe psychological distress, making our work both urgent and complex. At one of these events, an older man told me that in his old age he came to believe in the power of psychology.
Continued support from our donors is vital to sustain these efforts and bring hope and healing to those who need it most» said Karina Gostyuk – CUAMM Psychologist and Field Coordinator.

Mental health is health. As WHO estimates on a piece published in The Lancet, one person in five is living with some form of mental disorder, from mild depression or anxiety to psychosis in areas affected by conflict. Worse, almost 1 in 10 is living with a moderate or severe mental disorder. These people desperately need to be able to obtain treatment and care. Their disorders often impair their ability to function – so access to care isn’t just about improving mental health, it can be a matter of survival. 22% of the Ukranian population affected by the conflict has mental health problems (WHO), including depression and anxiety. The soaring number of people seeking mental health assistance is directly linked to the war, prolonged displacement and the critical deterioration of living conditions. The most vulnerable population groups appear to be women, children and adolescents being the latter those who show major signs of trauma, fear, isolation, loss of hope, and depression. Two-thirds of the children have experienced displacement, while those living in conflict areas have faced continuous threats, fears, family separations, and bereavements, while the provision of child protection services has decreased due to the disruptions caused by the conflict.

Doctors with Africa CUAMM has been working in Ukraine since March 2022, providing multisectoral responses to the urgent needs of the most vulnerable populations affected by the Ukrainian conflict. Since the onset of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, CUAMM has adopted a flexible, multisectoral approach to address the multidimensional needs of war victims. In close collaboration with local authorities and civil society organizations, CUAMM has developed an intervention strategy aimed at supporting and integrating the socio-healthcare system in conflict-affected countries, ensuring access to essential and life-saving services for the most vulnerable groups. The MHPSS activity is part of  R.I.S.E. project, funded by The Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS) aiming at providing support to IDPs, refugees and host communities in conflict-affected zones.

Active from the outset of the humanitarian crisis in the Ternopil and Chernivtsi regions in western Ukraine, CUAMM has reached over 40,594 people and supported more than 29 healthcare facilities with medicines, consumables, biomedical equipment, and logistical support materials ensuring the continuity of life-saving services and contributing to reducing morbidity and mortality among war victims in the areas targeted.




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