A year of war in Ukraine: Our support on the mental health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable

24.February 2023

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, and as an active partner of the ongoing humanitarian support, we reflect on the challenging events of the past year.

The violence and devastating consequences of the conflict have forced over eight million people, mostly women and children, to flee their homes looking for safety. The hostilities have caused innumerable losses, severe damage to civilian infrastructure, as well as an extreme emotional toll on families. 

While the need for immediate assistance is still essential, multi-sectoral and tailored support focused on boosting resilience and advancing prospects for improving mental health and wellbeing are indispensable, in tandem with life-saving responses. Losing one’s home and the sense of safety prompts far-reaching implications on a person’s life than just the need of food or housing. 

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an estimated 15 million people, one third of the Ukrainian population, are currently struggling with mental health issues. In view of this, it is imperative that the mental health and psychosocial support programmes, which are providing a much-needed springboard to community recovery, are put as a new priority.

Displaced people, living in temporary reception centres far from home, experience a complex set of challenges characterised by instable and insecure situations, that can leave children, older persons and those with disabilities in acutely vulnerable situations, and can contribute to physical and mental health issues along with social inclusion challenges.

RED NOSES, with its emergency response programme, Emergency Smile, sends specially trained healthcare clowns into areas of crisis to help improve the emotional and mental well-being of people through humour, laughter and human connection. Having operational presence in almost every country in the region affected by the conflict, our partners from Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany and Austria, have allowed us to quickly pivot ongoing work and capacities to respond to the crisis as soon as we were needed.

Bringing much-needed psychosocial support to people affected by the ongoing conflict is a team effort, thus we have been working in close cooperation with partners like Red Cross, Concordia, Moldova for Peace among others, to get help to other bordering countries, like Moldova, where we are also needed.

One year later, it is time to think on long-term solutions, to ensure a real improvement in the wellbeing of all those who have fled the violence or are impacted by it. A year of war has hindered the access to crucial health and mental services, and disproportionately impacted the lives of those displaced. Now that the basic needs are being met, we have a responsibility to look at the emotional and mental health of people, especially the most vulnerable, our children.

Countless of missions later supporting the people affected by the conflict in Ukraine, we want to thank our partners, and teams on the ground, for their courage, diligence and professionalism. They have been tirelessly working to assist children and their families affected by the ongoing war bringing moments of relief to thousands of people.

After a year of work, supporting those most vulnerable, RED NOSES stands by its unwavering commitment to bring joy and psychosocial support to all the affected people by this senseless war, and we count on your compassion and generosity to keep doing so for as long as we are needed. Please consider donating to our Emergency Smile programme so that thousands of children can experiences moments of happiness and regain hope for their future.