RCPsych President marks the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine

Statement / comment
24 February 2023

On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said more support must be made available for people suffering from serious mental illnesses as a result of the war.  

Dr Adrian James will be attending the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association Conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, 24 February 2023 to take part in a Presidential Plenary session alongside leaders from other colleges and associations.  

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:  

“The war has had a devastating effect on Ukraine, including on the mental health of the nation, but it has also shown how resilient people can be in the face of adversity. Thousands of people have been killed, injured or made homeless, and it is completely natural for anyone living in a war-torn country to struggle with intense feelings of grief and loss.  

“After a year of armed conflict, we would expect to see more people asking for support with mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and addiction. Ukraine and its neighbours are under intense pressure and may not be able to offer these people the vital mental health support they need. It is so important that clinics are set up which can give people access to treatments, such as talking therapies, as well as medication in more severe cases.

“There will also be many people who do not have a mental illness, but who may benefit from other forms of support. Reassuring people that they have someone to speak with about their experiences can make all the difference to their mental wellbeing, as can helping them to maintain contact with friends and family if they have become separated.  

“We know people struggling with poor mental health can benefit from receiving care within their own local communities. The College has built a strong relationship with the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association and run webinars on psychological first aid so that clinicians on the front-line provide more effective care. We have also translated our patient resource Coping After a Traumatic Event into Ukrainian and Russian and received reports that this has been printed and distributed by people on the ground.”  

The College has produced an information leaflet to support asylum seekers and refugees. We also have a page dedicated to providing psychiatrists with resources that may help them respond to disasters and conflict. This includes our Coping After a Traumatic Event patient resource.  

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