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Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Section
| March 2022
How to support those in conflict situations and refugees who have experienced trauma
In response to events in Ukraine and the impact across the world, the CDT committee wishes to support those responding directly or indirectly in every way we can, to increase awareness of trauma and effective psychosocial support.
As psychologists, mental health practitioners or emergency responders, we can improve outcomes for those involved in war or fleeing conflict environments. Below we summarise some easily downloadable resources for helping adults and children, at home and in affected countries.
We’ll be focusing on âWorking With Refugeesâ(in a change to the previously announced topic) at our 30 September conference in London more information in a forthcoming newsletter.
The invasion of Ukraine has resulted in sudden, shocking, life-changing experiences for the Ukrainian people and families, and those supporting them.
Many of the factors we know contribute to trauma are present for both those staying in Ukraine or those seeking refuge.
There has been a huge response from organisations, practitioners and people offering their own homes and comfort to others.
Information and resources to help you
Below are some of the resources that could support the response, and we urge all those involved, in whatever role, to take care of themselves. We have also included resources for those who are in the UK and are affected by watching events unfold or concerned about exposure to media for themselves or their children.
If you have any queries or further ideas on how the section can help in this situation, please contact us by email.
Also, if you wish to contribute or add to the list below, please do so via our Facebook page or Twitter handle (see social media links below). Look out for a tweet on the CDT Twitter account or a mention on the section’s Facebook page, and add your contributions.
The European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS) website lists resources for mental health professionals and people affected, including psychological first aid. There are resources in Ukrainian.
Among the ESTSS resources is a link to the comprehensive toolkits offered by the Mental Health and Psycho Social Support network (which highlights resources available in Ukrainian under its âresourcesâ tab).
This includes links to many documents in multiple languages, e.g. a Psychological First Aid fieldwork guide in Ukrainian and in English, and Support for People Separated from Family Members.
Combat veterans and their families may also be triggered. The organisation Combat Stress – for veteransâ mental health – says it is experiencing a rise in calls from veterans who are finding their anxiety, hypervigilance and memories of traumatic experiences to recur. It has a Ukraine webpage and a free helpline 0800 138 1619 or text 07537 173 683 or email.
Phoenix Australia provides this short, downloadable factsheet with ideas for supporting a friend or family member affected by a disaster: Phoenix Australia tip sheet.
For refugees and asylum seekers, the Red Cross offers guidance. The British Medical Association has also developed a toolkit to help identify key needs in these populations and ways that some of the challenges can be overcome. And the Health Psychology Management Organisation Services lists a comprehensive encyclopaedia of charities which help refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
The website Itâs Complicated collates UK-based counsellors who are offering free psychological therapy to people directly affected by events in Ukraine.
An article on the Psychology Today website lists ways that people can practically help Ukrainians, if they feel powerless and want to do something.
The BPS also has the following documents relating to trauma generally, which may be of help:
Early interventions following a disaster
Supporting adults affected by major traumatic incidents: Advice for families, friends, caregivers and other supporters
Coping with Doomscrolling
Obsessed? Frightened, Wakeful? War in Ukraine sparks return of doomscrolling | the Guardian
Ukraine conflict: How to help yourself, your kids and others | BBC News
Children and Young People
For those responding directly, go to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network Psychological First Aid manual and associated downloadable resources:
- Organisations with advice and support for children and young people/refugee children include the UK Trauma Council and Children and War Foundation.
- How to talk about the war and support children and young people who are anxious: the BPS, KQED and the Mental Health Foundation have published articles/advice.
- The BPS also has a more general document on Supporting Children and young people involved in major trauma: Advice for parents, caregivers and teachers.
- From MHPSS Network, mentioned above: How to support your child during bombing (link in Ukrainian), Dealing with traumatic responses in children and much more.
- Climbing the rainbow, a blog site which supports people parenting autistic children, provides a lovely printable set of cards to help children talk about their feelings about the news of war
- News delivery designed for children and young people, provided by Newsround.
- Advice for children and young people if they are upset by the news provided by Newsround.
- A delicate balanceâ: Expertsâ tips on dealing with Ukraine anxiety in children | Children | The Guardian.
- The government has also posted some guidance on its Education Hub