Ukrainians feel anxious and scared, children have trauma, describe psychologists

Anxiety, fear for the future, concern for relatives in Ukraine or financial uncertainty. These are the most common issues that war-affected people discuss with therapists.

They are also often approached by people seeking therapy for their children. “For example, they start to pee, they are afraid of loud sounds due to certain traumatic experiences, etc.,” said Jana Dolejšová of the nonprofit I’m Doing What I Can.

This organization was founded during the first waves of coronavirus, when thousands of people needed the help of psychotherapists. They also founded the Terapie.cz portal, which makes it easier for people to find a therapist. It currently offers free assistance to people affected by the war in Ukraine.

In crisis situations, people first work on a kind of shock adrenaline and only then it starts hitting them. So we still expect the biggest attack.

Jana Dolejšová, employee of the association I do what I can

Since the beginning of the conflict, they have organized around 50 therapy sessions and another 100 people are waiting to be settled. However, they expect the biggest increase in requests for psychological help in the coming days. “We have experience with the times of covid. In crisis situations, people first work on some sort of adrenaline from the shock and only then does it start hitting them. So we always expect the most big attack,” Dolejšová explained.

Classical and online therapy

The organization offers help to people mainly in the Czech Republic, but also outside through online therapies. The offer of psychological support also applies to volunteers providing humanitarian aid in the current situation.

“In the first days, 95% of the applications came from Ukrainians who live in the Czech Republic and have family in Ukraine, for example. In the past week or so, 90% of applications are Ukrainian refugees. Here and there we also get a request from the Russians, who live here and, for example, are bullied,” Dolejšová described.

According to Dolejšová, the aggravation of existing problems often occurs among newcomers. “When someone had mental problems before, the war often caused them again, they got worse diametrically,” she said.

About 300 therapists are involved to help me do what I can. Psychological sessions are offered in Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian and English.

Universities also help

Many universities have also been involved in psychological care. For example, at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University, a hotline has been in operation for Ukrainian and Russian citizens since the second day of the war.

The interest in the council grows in this way. “Generally fewer people call on weekends, and crisis response sometimes has two to three calls a week. Which is really a lot due to the limited uptime – 2 hours a day,” the guarantor said. expert Kateřina Bartošová.

Russian-speaking and Czech final-year psychology students with training in crisis intervention are available online. They are also working intensively to expand the capacity in Ukrainian as well.

The issues that people bring to the crisis line are different. “Some of them call because they are feeling intense emotions and just want psychological support. Some are asking for practical information on where to find accommodation, if they are entitled to health care or how they can settle their visa issues,” said one of the students, who helps on the crisis line as a volunteer. Because of her Russian origins, she wished not to reveal her name for security reasons. She faces prison in Russia for helping Ukraine.

According to Kateřina Bartošová, interest in psychological counseling from Czech students and employees has also increased. “Student demand is relatively high. We are currently preparing various support groups for all students of Masaryk University at the Institute of Psychology,” she said.

Therapy for employees

Companies are also increasingly looking for psychological support. Soulmio has been involved for a long time in psychological counseling in companies. About 60 companies have so far approached them in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In the first days, people from the management of the company contacted them with a request for psychological help for their employees. “Depression and anxiety are the most common. People are afraid of the future, they feel anxiety associated with high stress. This often turns into panic attacks,” said the founder of Soulmio, Simona Zábržová.

Now, according to Zábržová, the situation is slowly calming down and people are looking for longer-term help. Conflicts between employees are also common problems. “Yesterday, for example, we received a bank that has many employees in the Czech Republic from Ukraine and Russia. They resolved that people were not having fun with each other, there were big conflicts, so this bank paid the therapy staff in their native language,” Zábržová added.

They are also dedicated to helping people run businesses that teach them how to handle crisis situations. They organized a workshop with a psychologist and a psychotherapist on this topic for HR staff and team leaders. “About 150 companies in Czech and 50 in English registered for us,” Zábržová said. They have also prepared a manual on how to work specifically with this situation.

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