The war in Ukraine has continued to have a devastating impact on people's mental health. According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, around 8 million people are living with mental health disorders in Ukraine and some 15 million will need support from a mental health professional. People have experienced fear, trauma and isolation and are showing symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) psychologists are responding to mental health needs of patients based on their individual needs. In 2023 alone, MSF psychologists have provided more than 8,000 mental health consultations in seven different regions of Ukraine.
“[February] 25 was my birthday. It was almost my birthday, when the war broke out. We were hiding in cellars. They [Russian armed forces] drove tanks and armoured vehicles through the village”, explains Anatoliy Andriyevsky, 74, from Myrolyubivka village in the Kherson region.
“Of course, it was scary. You lie down and think: ‘who knows what will happen in the morning.’ You don’t know if you will wake up of not. Especially if you are alone. It’s good to have someone to talk to, but I was alone...”
Anatoliy heard of MSF psychologists from the community and started to think about getting help. One of the main barriers to access psychological support is the stigma and self-stigma associated with mental health disorders, especially in rural areas.
“Men also feel powerless, helpless, and it of course affects their mental health. Their emotions need to be addressed, because they affect both the family and the person themself”, explains MSF psychologist Tetiana Baranets.