With long-term, active combat operations taking their toll on the psyche of Ukraine’s military, leaving lasting imprints on their mental health, the International Society of Psychologists is actively working to help Ukrainians with mental health problems as a result of Russian aggression. These problems with mental health have not spared the civilians of Ukraine - who are under constant pressure from the tragic events of the war.
On April 14, a symposium at the Vcentri Hub was held in Kyiv. The Community Center for Psychological Support, headed by Oleksandr Zharkov, organized the event with financial support of the International humanitarian organization ChiRaj and Heal-Corp by Dr. Rajeev Fernando, a Disaster Medicine and Infectious Diseases physician. The event was also attended by Kyiv City Center for Social, Professional and Labor Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Columbia University Teachers College, The Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana.
Oleksandr Zharkov, Chief and co-founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support. Photo: Vitaliy Segeda
“When I saw all the horrors committed by the Russian army in Bucha last spring, I wanted to help these people,” Dr. Rajeev told the Kyiv Post. “For the most part, Society was talking about physical injuries - forgetting about mental health - while civilians and especially the military suffer from acute stress disorder, PTSD, depression and other psychological problems related to the war."
Dr. Rajeev Fernando, Disaster Medicine Doctor, Co-founder of the International humanitarian organization Chiraj; Chief Medical Officer Board Member of the Heal corp organization; Founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support. Photo: Vitaliy Segeda
Dr. Rajeev also provides medical care to maintain the health of the center's patients. Additionally, his charity is involved in the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian military, refugees, and medications for hospitals.
The psychological support center has been operating in Kyiv for about ten months, with experts from all over the world providing counseling to those seeking support. Since beginning, 403 people have passed through the center, where they go through a course until ten individual sessions. Mostly, they are refugees from Mariupol, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and cities of the Kyiv region.
In addition, the center's specialists counsel residents of Kharkiv online. In the future, there plans to bring centers to other cities in Ukraine.
According to Dr. Rajeev, it is necessary to divert the vector of people's attention from everyday conversations about the war to something positive. So, in the future, he also wants to organize free beauty centers for women affected by the war.
Many American and international specialists also attended the April 14 charity event. These included psychology professors and graduate students, neurological and clinical psychologists, and UN and World Council for Psychotherapy representatives. During the symposium, Dr. Judy Kuriansky (Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University Teachers College; United Nations representative of the International Association of Applied Psychology and World Council for Psychotherapy), Dr. Darlyne Nemeth (Ph.D. Clinical, Medical & Neuropsychologist, Founder of The Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana, and Secretary-General of the World Council for Psychotherapy), Dr. Alla Prokhovnik-Raphique (Ph.D. Founder and Director of Nurturing Roots Psychology; Chief Liaison Officer of Ukraine NGO Coordination Network), Oleksandr Zharkov, (Master of Psychology, Practical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Сhief and Co-founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support), Dmytro Tytula and Iryna Zhevelieva (Psychologists of the Community Center for Psychological Support) shared training techniques that will help in the rehabilitation of victims.
According to one of the psychologists Iryna Zhevelieva, now people with panic attacks, PTSD, stress, insomnia, lack of concentration and depression, caused by war, are the ones seeking help. In addition, the center helps the military return to civilian life.
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