|11 Aug 2023|
|Good News Corner|
A study by Piotr Długosz published in the 2023 Journal of Migration and Health studied war trauma and assessed the mental health of Ukrainian war refugees in Poland. The study was carried out in April and May 2022 at a time where between 1.5 million and 2 million Ukrainian refugees were staying in Poland.
The research studied 737 Ukrainian refugees staying in Poland. The results indicated that 'depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD may be observed among 73% of respondents, whereas 66% of the respondents display psychological distress'. These results may seem shocking initially but they're not surprising to anyone who works in the mental health sector, nor are they shocking if you put yourself in the shoes of someone fleeing war.
Your father, brother, uncle, cousin, or grandfather may be back home, fighting against a psychopathic force with no end in sight. You may have other family members, friends, neighbours, teachers, or colleagues who have decided to stay for other reasons. Maybe one of them is disabled, in poor health, or too old to leave safely so staying in a warzone seems like a better option. Maybe you know people who have died already. Maybe their apartment block was blown up. Maybe their school was shelled. Maybe you have friends or family whom you haven't heard from in weeks. Maybe they're alive. Maybe they're dead. You've no way of knowing.
In the meantime, you must wait. The waiting can cause more depression, more sleepless nights, and more stress. If you believe in a God, you might curse them or you might pray to them. You have to settle into a community you may never have even heard of, let alone considered visiting, before. You're grateful for the hospitality of the Irish people but you can't really focus on starting fresh because you're worried about your family, friends, colleagues, and community back home. You'll probably struggle to tear your eyes away from what you see about the war online, even though it just exacerbates your grief, stress, anxiety, and depression. While dealing with all of this, you must enrol your children, if you have them, into a new school and hope they make friends in a new community with a language barrier, new cultures, and new traditions to learn as well as the usual school subjects. You worry about their mental health and how they're coping, and you try hide how you're coping because you don't want to worry them.
After settling in Ireland, you might hear whispers from the far-right with questions like 'Ukraine is a big country. Why not move to another part of it?' Do you bother engaging and responding with statements like 'In May 2023, there were 5.1 million internally displaced people in Ukraine. Some do move to another part of it. Not everyone can or wants to. Are those who left wrong to leave? Should we wait until Putin annexes the entire country? Would you stay in a war-torn country, waiting for him to come?' You decide not to engage and risk drawing someone onto you, after all, wasn't there a Ukrainian actor recently assaulted outside The Abbey? As you become increasingly aware of the growing hostilities towards refugees from the far-right, you start to wonder 'Is Ireland safe for me?'
73% of respondents of Długosz's survey experienced depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD. I'm surprised that figure isn't higher. Of course fleeing war causes depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD. How could it not? It is extremely traumatic. The stuff of nightmares.
Turn2me, a national mental health charity, is offering all Ukrainians staying in Ireland up to 6 free one-to-one counselling sessions. The charity is also offering free online support groups for Ukrainians. The initiative is funded by a grant from the Community Foundation Ireland, as part of the Ireland for Ukraine project.
Sessions will be conducted by a mental health professional, in English. Ukrainians will be connected to psychotherapists who have experience working with clients who have been through a traumatic event.
Follow the below steps to avail of these free counselling sessions:
1. Go to www.turn2me.ie
2. Click on “Create a new account”
3. Input all your details as directed, for “Company code / Refugee Code” Input “UKR”
4. Once registration is completed, all counselling slots within Turn2Me's free service, and their weekly support group will be available for registration in advance of the scheduled date and time.
Turn2Me is delighted to be able to offer this service to Ukrainians living in Ireland. Therapy is vital for people who have been through a trauma like fleeing war. Turn2Me's psychotherapists will help them deal with this trauma and process it in a healthy environment. For more information or to sign up to these services, follow the above steps on Turn2Me.ie
Please note, Turn2Me also offers free counselling sessions to non-Ukrainians, on Turn2Me.ie. The above process is to pair Ukrainians with psychotherapists who have experience dealing with war trauma.