Kirill Solod
The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies

Fight after fight. Ukraine’s mental health crisis

According to the Times of Israel, Elena Zelenskaya, wife of the President of Ukraine, will visit Israel next week. The First Lady of Ukraine is primarily interested in the methods of treating PTSD, which often affects people who have been to war. The wife of President Zelensky will meet with wounded soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine undergoing rehabilitation and prosthetics in Israel.

In addition to helping civilians survive the events associated with the war, Ukrainian leaders have the primary task of returning to a combatant experiencing psychological “burnout” – the ability to effectively perform combat missions. Apparently, Elena Zelenskaya intends to solve this very task with the help of Israel – to find those methods of psychological assistance, which will allow to return fighters to the front line as soon as possible.

Identification and relief of PTSD in the military is a global trend of the 21st century due to the huge number of local conflicts. More than 350 million adult war survivors have PTSD and/or major depression (European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2019).

The war in Ukraine is a unique case not only in terms of the nature of the war and warfare methods, but also in terms of the mental states of its participants, duration of physical and psychological stress. It stands out among modern wars for its extreme violence. Its front lines are close together and barraged with heavy artillery, rotations from the front line are infrequent. Ukraine’s forces are largely made up of men and women who had no experience of combat before.

The main tasks of relief (according to a number of experts – PTSD is not treatable) of PTSD symptoms include: reduction of negative consequences when war veterans get back to a civil life (maintaining an emotional upsurge; motivation; sense of purpose and others); assisting in rethinking family roles, in restructuring the norms of peaceful communication; decreasing in cases of suicides or illegal criminal acts by veterans.

As for civilians, more than 90 percent of Ukrainians have PTSD symptoms. Only three in every 100 Ukrainians with PTSD are receiving support (Health Ministry of Ukraine). The problem is compounded by the fact that Ukraine (before the war) was saddled with one of the most underfunded and unresourced mental health services in Europe, attracting only 3% of the country’s health budge (World Bank Group).

Main specific of PTSD is the “delay” of its manifestation (from 6 months to 1.5 years). Thus, the main flow of patients is yet to come. Due to the lack of the actual infrastructure for the provision of psychological assistance in Ukraine, due to the cost of treatment, the large number of potential patients and the lack of the required number of psychologists, only modern technologies give solutions to face emerging challenges.

We hope that Israel will support Ukraine to develop unique methodology and approach to working with PTSD, which will allow to provide customized treatment to an unlimited number of patients. Because that’s what today’s task is.

About the Author
Political advisor. Research analyst. Government Relations, International Affairs, Political Sociology. Head of The Golda Meir Institute for Political and Social studies and managing partner of the Institute of Political Consulting LS GROUP. Former consultant to M. Gorbachev on public relations. Former head of NGOs in Russia. MBA, Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, 2010). Repatriated to Israel in 2017.
Related Topics
Related Posts