APA Statement and Resources on the Mental Health Impact of the War in Ukraine
Today, the American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., and Chair of APA Committee on the Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster Joshua Morganstein, M.D., offered the following APA statement and resources in response to the War in Ukraine:
“The war in Ukraine will have adverse mental health effects on individuals and communities around the world. The American Psychiatric Association sends our support to all who are experiencing pain and suffering from these deeply troubling events, including those directly exposed to armed conflict, those displaced from their homes and country, those providing care and protection to civilians, friends and family of Ukrainian citizens, and the Ukrainian diaspora around the globe.
The APA supports the care of all immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, and all within Ukraine with dignity and respect, and strongly advocates for the provision of evidence-based and culturally-competent mental health support for those affected through early interventions to mitigate the distress and the treatment of mental health conditions that may arise.”
Some important tips for clinicians to help protect the mental health of refugees, immigrants, and those displaced during crisis situations include:
- Ensure their safety, both physical and that of the treasured belongings they may have brought (e.g., locked trunks, etc.).
- Connect them to loved ones when possible.
- Use calming techniques that are nuanced to their culture.
- Be alert to usual illnesses present in their population - from diabetes to hypertension to schizophrenia.
- Remain aware and sensitive to trauma history.
- Be aware that children need the presence of caregivers and clear responses to their questions, but not to be overloaded with frightening information.
- Helping people with problem-solving is caring and supportive.
- Recruit "helpers" to assist others and have them extend your care.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers these resources for children and families who need support:
- Talking to Children About War
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
- Psychological First Aid for Displaced Children and Families
- Traumatic Separation and Refugee and Immigrant Children: Tips for Current Caregivers
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University also offers resources for psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals, humanitarian responders, and community leaders helping support those impacted:
- Managing the Stress of Children after a Crisis
- Post Disaster Stress Management for Parents
- Advancing the Health of the Family Left Behind
- Helping Communities and Families Recover after a Disaster
- Information for Responders on Emotional Reactions to Human Remains
- Leadership Communication for Anticipating and Responding to Stressful Events
- Leadership Stress Management
How to Help
The following are a few of the organizations supporting Ukrainian citizens and others affected by the war through volunteer work or charitable donations:
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.