The Need for mental health support in Ukraine

How Medair helps Ukrainians overcome mental health problems.

“I really enjoyed the organization of these trainings. I’ve already gained a lot of interesting knowledge, which, it seems, I was already familiar with, but had never thought about it deeply. Learning new things, I understand how I can apply them in my work to provide better support to people, especially in such a challenging period for everyone,” says Yaroslav, a family doctor with 28 years of experience in the medical field.


Yaroslav, a family doctor with 28 years of experience in the medical field, seats on a sofa communicating with me about the benefits of training. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine over two years ago, many people have been grappling with profound psychological challenges. The impact of various traumatic events has left countless individuals in need of mental health support to cope with the emotional aftermath, including stress.

Realising the unique needs of those affected by the armed conflict, Medair has initiatied a training program aimed at equipping medical practitioners with the necessary skills to provide essential psychological assistance. During these trainings – which encompass lectures, case studies, role-playing, group discussions, field visits, assessments, and Q&A sessions – participants engage in a range of activities designed to improve their knowledge and abilities in addressing mental health issues. Its overarching goal is to foster collaborations for collective efforts, reinforcing the commitment of governments, international organizations, and diverse stakeholders in addressing mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders.

Last month, I had an opportunity to visit one of these training sessions organised by Medair’s health team, which drew participation from 30 healthcare workers with diverse backgrounds. Iryna and Volodymyr, who conducted the trainings, boast extensive experience collaborating with NGOs.

With over 25 years of experience as a psychological therapist, Iryna emphasised the significance of trainings in promoting collaborative learning. Beyond merely imparting skills, they cultivate a dynamic environment for participants with diverse backgrounds, encouraging exchanges between seasoned professionals and those with fresh perspectives.

“Conducting workshops isn’t just a part of my job, but also an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and observe the impact. Our audience is interesting and diverse. The goal of our sessions is not only to impart knowledge and skills but also to change consciousness. During the sessions, I observe participants with different life experiences – representatives of humanitarian organisations and small communities, and even those who have spent more years working than others have lived. They’ve become a meeting point for different generations, where it’s possible to exchange unique experiences and facilitate interaction among participants,” says Iryna.


Iryna, a psychotherapist with 25 years, seats together with Volodymyr, a psychotherapist with a big experience, prepares to conduct trainings. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

After an interesting conversation with Iryna, I joined the medical professionals in the main hall for training. An air raid alert interrupted the discussion, prompting everyone to swiftly move to the bomb shelter. Once the alert subsided, we returned to the hall for an engaging team game. There, participants were divided into subgroups, assuming roles either as doctors or patients. Witnessing the active participation of the attendees, I observed how the game not only entertained but also contributed to a deeper understanding of the material, and fostered unity among the team.


All the people present at the training work in the medical field throughout Ukraine, some of them work directly with people who lived in the occupied regions. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

One of the participants, Hryhorii, works as a general practitioner and has 47 years of medical experience. He shared how he experienced the training: “These trainings are an incredible experience, and I almost wished they lasted longer. It’s my hope that more professionals, especially those at different levels of their medical careers, partake in them. The wealth of knowledge imparted is not only beneficial for young medical professionals but also for experienced experts like myself. The clarity with which the information is delivered is remarkable, and the modern approach to the process is commendable.”


Hryhorii , works as a general practitioner and has 47 years of medical experience, shares with Communications Officer his impressions of the training. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

For Oleg, another participant, the training held significant importance and value, as he currently works in a humanitarian organisation operating in liberated regions. “Having attended these trainings, I’m impressed by the relevance and necessity of the information acquired for my professional work. While providing medical assistance in liberated territories, I encounter a significant number of people who have various issues with their psychological well-being. These trainings are really useful for supporting these people.”


Oleg, 54 years old, works as a therapist (humanitarian worker) at NGO in Ukraine. ©Medair/Diana Mukan

At the end of the training, attendees shared their gratitude for the new knowledge they had gained, and thanked Medair for facilitating the session.


Volodymyr conducts training telling how to help people with common mental disorders (depression, acute reaction to stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal behavior, substance use disorders, other complaints about the state of mental health). ©Medair/Diana Mukan


Despite the air raid alert, all participants went to the basement, determined to continue their training without interruption, showcasing a commitment to excellence in the face of adversity. ©Medair/Diana Mukan


Medair services in the east of Ukraine are funded by Swiss Solidarity.

All photos ©Medair / Diana Mukan

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed here are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.