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No Peace of Mind: The looming mental health crisis for the children of Ukraine

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World Vision
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This report warns that, because of the conflict in Ukraine, millions of children are likely to suffer from mental health impacts now and into the future. World Vision is concerned that the war is subjecting children to constant fear and hopelessness, increasing their immediate stress responses and increasing their risk for specific mental disorders such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. We are doing what we can, but we know from experience in places like Syria and South Sudan that proper investment in mental health and other services is vital if children are to overcome the impact of such distressing experiences.

Children are resilient and can cope if provided with adequate support.

However, if left unattended, their symptoms will have mid- and long-term impacts; in 15-20 years’ time, a large percentage of the country’s workforce will be suffering from some sort of emotional or mental disorder. On top of what this will mean for individuals, families, and Ukrainian society at large, it will also inevitably have long-term economic impacts on the country and the region.

Key statistics and facts include:

  • Previous studies have shown that more than 22% of conflict-affected people may end up with some form of mental health disorder. In the context of Ukraine, that would mean 4,595,591 people, 1,531,864 of them childreni , and the number is growing daily.

  • In a rapid assessment of needs amongst displaced families in Ukraine, parents’ biggest worry for their children was their mental health (45%). Worryingly, more than a quarter (26%) of parents in the same area had no knowledge of mental health services that they could make available to their children.

  • Investing just US$50 per person3 now could prevent over 1 million people affected by the conflictii from developing more complex mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders.

Alongside a plea for an end to hostilities, this report calls for mental health and psychosocial support to be sufficiently prioritised and funded for the children of Ukraine and their communities.