The Mental Health concerns of the Ukraine and Russia conflict
by Salina Shafi
Hi everyone! This is the second installment in our Russia and Ukraine series. Medical Marvels feels that it is crucial for us to continue to stay informed about the global crisis occurring in Russia and Ukraine as the conflict continues. This article covers the toll the Russia and Ukraine War has taken on people's mental health.
At this point, almost everyone has some sort of information about the attacks on Ukraine and what these attacks mean for the international community. It is important to focus on the people that are affected, especially highlighting the citizens of Ukraine and the interactional community with their support. It is crucial for the international community to understand how the Russia and Ukraine conflict is mentally impacting individuals. This will allow Ukrainians to start healing from the effects of this war. Due to the rapidly changing atmosphere within Ukraine and Russia, many people in the war zone and worldwide feel various emotions. Emotions such as worry, fear, mistrust, and anger could potentially lead to mental health symptoms. The citizens of Ukraine have continued to be an example of what it means to survive and prosper through difficult times, even despite this conflict affecting them mentally and physically.
Across social media platforms, citizens of Ukraine share their experiences and what they went through. A mother posted on Instagram how her daughter came to her in fear after hearing the loud explosions so close to them. Research from previous studies have discovered that about ⅓ to ½ of adult refugees end up with some form of PTSD. As these events unfold, many Ukrainians fear the future of their freedom and democracy. The results of this conflict may very well determine how their society runs in the future. Having this looming fear of what the future holds can be unsettling for adults that are also in an active war zone (Javanbakht 2022).
Some people in Ukraine have resorted to staying in bunkers or underground places. Those individuals are scared that their home may be next, so they are taking precautions by doing the best they can to protect themselves. Some of them spend most of their days in bunkers; a Google Map was able to define that there are over 4000 shelters built to protect civilians. Many of these shelters were created in Soviet times (Lonsdorf, Estrin, and Harbage 2022). Faith has allowed many to cope with the mental health effects of a large-scale conflict like this. Regularly practicing faith can allow individuals to maintain structure. Families attempt to maintain some sort of normalcy by continuing their children’s education through technological advancements. Researchers have discovered that it is important for children to have some sort of structure in their life in an active war zone. Across social media, there are different perspectives of the citizens that still reside in Ukraine. There are people fleeing and then are also people trying to adapt their lives to this conflict, both of which are valid responses.
Citizens of Ukraine worry about their family and friends that are defending Ukraine on the front lines. Family members are receiving phone calls from soldiers to share last words. This is distressing for anyone, but to still have the fear that this conflict is not over, is the worst part (Leigh 2022).
During a stressful time like this, it is important to remain grounded. Using various types of coping methods can allow people to remain calm and think through the situations with a better mindset. Seeing what happened to Ukraine has put the entire world in a trance. President Zelensky has shown what it’s like in Ukraine, the uncertainty, the fear, he showed the world a glimpse of it all (Gancarski 2022). On March 18, he made a message to the world, specifically Russia, declaring that it is time to talk. President Zelensky highlights how Ukraine has always been open to negotiations and will continue to do what is best for their citizens (Yeung and Renton 2022). This message allowed the world to have a moment of peace, knowing that there was a possibility for conversation.
People within the United States are raising money in order to help Ukraine across various social media platforms. Some people feel like the only way they could help Ukraine is to donate because they cannot physically go there and help. Donating provides financial support while the country attempts to rebuild the damage done by Russia and it also fuels their resources if they need to defend their home.
It has become essential that citizens worldwide remain informed about the Russia and Ukraine crisis. Staying informed is one of the best ways to remain an active citizen as well as an active participant. Throughout history it is evident that those in the war zones are going through mental health issues. Conditions like PTSD can affect the people who were attacked in the initial attack from Russia, they will continue to replay those attacks in their head again and again unwillingly.
As anxiety creeps throughout the world, it is also evident that those around the world are also experiencing mental health issues due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. People share their coping mechanisms in hopes of creating a community to endure through the conflict. The unprovoked attacks on Ukraine are inexcusable. We stand in support of Ukraine, how ever they may need us, even if it be something as simple as taking a moment and just listening.
We hope you enjoyed reading the second installment in our Russia and Ukraine series. If you enjoyed this article, you should read the first article in our Russia and Ukraine series, which focuses on the Russian impact on Ukrainian hospitals, linked here.
As always, if you would like to be a writer, or have any questions about the Writing Committee, please feel free to comment down below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading, and remember to keep coming back for more articles!
Until next time,
Salina Shafi and the Writing Committee :)
Cengel, K. (2022, March 4). The 20th-century history behind Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Smithsonian. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-20th-century-history-behind-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-180979672/
Gancarski, A. G. (2022, March 17). 'shaken' Rick Scott reflects on emotional toll of Volodymyr Zelenskyy Presentation: 'everybody internalizes it'. Florida Politics - Campaigns & Elections. Lobbying & Government. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://floridapolitics.com/archives/509153-shaken-scott/
Javanbakht, A. (2022, March 11). Ukrainians face lasting psychological wounds from Russian invasion. Scientific American. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ukrainians-face-lasting-psychological-wounds-from-russian-invasion1/
Kekatos, M. (2022, March 3). Mental health effects of Ukraine war zone on children. ABC News. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://abcnews.go.com/International/mental-health-effects-ukraine-war-zone-children/story?id=83203801
Leigh, H. (2022, February 24). Ukrainian Americans worry about loved ones near the front lines. MSN. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/the-emotional-toll-of-ukraine-invasion-on-ukrainians-in-america/ar-AAUgJIL
Lonsdorf, K., Estrin, D., & Harbage, C. (2022, February 6). Bar, bookstore or Bunker? Kyiv residents wonder where to shelter in case of war. NPR. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2022/02/06/1078634148/kyiv-bunkers-ukraine-attack
Ohchr | Bachelet calls for strong leadership at moment of ... (2022). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=28163
Renton, A., & Ravindran, J. (2022, March 20). March 19, 2022 Russia-ukraine news. CNN. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/ukraine-russia-putin-news-03-19-22/index.html