November 23, 2017
Photo: Serhiy Bogdanov and the social workers at Sloviansk Center, September 2017
Marta Farion, president of Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation of America, travelled to Ukraine in September 2017 and together with Dr. Serhiy Bogdanov, director of the Kyiv-Mohyla Psychosocial Centers for Rehabilitation, had the chance to visit the facilities in Sloviansk and Pokrovsk, and to meet with adults and children treated at the centers. Below Ms. Marta offers her observations on the situation on the ground, the work of the centers and the outlook for treating the massive issue that PTSD has become in Ukraine.
‘Russia’s aggression in the East of Ukraine devastated the area, caused nearly 10,000 deaths and forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes. A significant number of Ukrainians from the occupied territories settled in the adjacent Donetsk and Lugansk areas choosing locations close to their homes in hopes of returning. Having suffered the horrors of war, these uprooted families suffer symptoms of mental trauma, depression and are oftentimes unable to re-enter society. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has established three Centers of Psychosocial Rehabilitation – in Kyiv, Sloviansk and Pokrovsk to assist the displaced adults and children alike in treating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of what these people had to go through to escape the destruction of war. Moreover, psychological assistance at such centers can be obtained by Ukrainian troops when they return home after demobilization.
Although the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centers receive financial assistance and support from the German Humanitarian Aid Service, the Maltese Service in Ukraine, and the UNICEF Children’s Fund for their operations, these and other international funders are unable to fund the psychological treatment of the demobilized military personnel en masse for the fear of being accused of intervening in the military conflict.
A doctor from Avdiivka who fled to Pokrovsk with her child shared her personal trauma through tears of pain and sadness. She spoke of being ostracized in the new surroundings, of feeling lost, of experiencing haunting memories of the wounds and injuries of both the soldiers and the civilians she has witnessed as the result of the violence. She expressed gratitude for the Center, where she said she felt protected and at home. She urged to spread the message of the necessity to open more similar centers, because there is an acute need for post-traumatic stress rehabilitation for thousands of affected individuals.
Another woman, a psychologist in the local penitentiary institution, came to the Center to ask for assistance for her patients, incarcerated for committing crimes, that are clearly the result of post-traumatic stress disorder. In her opinion, recently, there has been an increase in the number of people who use drugs or engage in theft because of injury, despair and hopelessness. She also stressed that there is a serious need to open new centers and increase the number of staff.
Parents bring their children to the Centers to treat various fears, nightmares, nervous and jumpy behavior, avoidance, lack of sleep, and sadness. During the time their children are attended to, the parents have an opportunity to hold sessions themselves.
Back in Kyiv, the Kyiv-Mohyla Psychosocial Center is engaged in a collaborative program with Johns Hopkins University and, with the support of USAID, is introducing a psychotherapy program based on evidence-based methods from other war-torn countries. Parallel to this work, there is also a continuous assessment and revision of the effectiveness of different versions of the treatment program.
After the expected completion of the program in 2018, if the suggested method of psychotherapy has proven to be effective, psychologists and social workers in the east of Ukraine will be trained as a first priority. To support the opening of the Kyiv Center in 2016, the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America held a fundraising concert with Oleh Skrypka and Lynne Jordan in Chicago and a fundraiser in June of that year. The $35,000 raised from that event was a major help in renovating the premises of the center and jump-starting its operations.
Today, all three centers need financial support from organizations and private donors. An electronic database to streamline the management processes of all the centers, as well as to store confidential data on the individual progress of psychological rehabilitation is required for effective running of the centers. Also, private donations are sought to provide psychological rehabilitation to demobilized military returning from the frontlines, and to assist hospitals in the frontlines with PTSD treatment modules’. You can make a donation toward the Kyiv-Mohyla Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centers on our website, or you can contact the Centers directly:
Centers for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy2/4 Glasunova vul. Room 302, Kyiv, 01042, UkraineDr. Serhiy Bogdanov, Director: firstname.lastname@example.org