Mental Health in Ukraine
According to a UN survey, the biggest concern people in Ukraine have due to the Russian invasion is their mental health. Mental health in Ukraine was already low due to Russia’s previous invasion and the impact of COVID-19. But with the effects of the February 2022 Russian invasion, mental health in Ukraine has only declined further. A reported 70% of the population is experiencing mental health problems due to the war. Here is how the war in Ukraine has affected its people’s mental health. 

Poverty in Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact on the country’s economic and social conditions, as well as its general livelihood. The poverty rate in Ukraine increased from 5% to 24.2% in 2022, meaning almost a quarter of Ukrainians were living on less than $2.15 a day These poor living conditions have had a number of effects that have affected mental health in Ukraine. 

Impact of the War

The fallout of the invasion has included:

  • Mass Unemployment — After the invasion in February 2022, many people’s jobs were made redundant. As of November 2022, 2.4 million people were unemployed due to the conflict. This is due to attacks on Ukrainian ports and infrastructure, which severely limits the imports and exports of the country, thus causing the businesses to suffer and forcing them to decrease employees. This has thrust many Ukrainians into poverty.
  • Inflation — Rates of inflation reached 26.6% at the end of 2022, making it difficult for Ukrainian people to access food and other resources. With the rate of unemployment being so high, people do not have the finances to provide for their families regardless of soaring prices. Inflation has put an additional strain on the Ukrainian people.
  • Damaged Buildings and Structures — Hospitals, cultural sites, homes, factories and industrial centers have all been affected. The buildings have either been pillaged of their products or goods or destroyed completely.
  • Refugee Crisis and Displacement — More than 8 million people have fled Ukraine, leaving behind their homes. Others have been involuntarily displaced by Russia.
  • A Decrease in New Jobs — With the high levels of unemployment, as well as the country’s GDP decreasing by 30% since the start of the war, generating new jobs in the aftermath of the war will be difficult, thus placing Ukrainian people’s financial stability into further suspension.
  • Lack of Safety — Perhaps one of the biggest factors impacting mental health in Ukraine is the constant danger and instability. An estimated 9,000 people died during the invasion with a further 16,000 people injured. Russia is constantly threatening further attacks and possible use of nuclear weapons. Living in constant danger like this is a big part of why mental health is so low in Ukraine.

All these effects have impacted the mental health and general well-being of the Ukrainian people in ways detailed in the Heal Ukraine Trauma report. 

Mental Health Concerns

The Heal Ukraine Trauma report from April 2023 stated this about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “The invasion has stripped civilians of their sense of identity. Their world was turned upside down overnight, allowing for little preparation and increasing cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.” 

The report goes on to detail the main mental health concerns in Ukraine due to the war, including a fear of death, loss of freedom, grief, separation of families, social dislocation, social disruption, forced migration and more.

Further, there are mental health issues in Ukraine due to the war that are specific to certain demographics; for example, women in Ukraine are fearful of gender-based violence such as rape and sexual torture. Many women have reported taking measures to avoid this violence such as constantly staying indoors, which has impacted their mental health significantly. Another example includes mothers and fathers, who may feel pressure to care for their families, taking on the burden of caring for their children and partners both emotionally and physically. 

How Poverty and Mental Health Interact

The widespread increase in poverty due to the invasion is another cause of mental health issues. As mentioned earlier in this article, the poverty rate in Ukraine shot up from 5% to 24.2% due to the war, indicating a serious decline in the country’s situation.

In an interview with The Guardian, a church pastor in charge of giving out free bread to Ukrainian people stated that people who use the service talk about how “hard” it is dealing with the failing economy and how younger people who have lost their jobs will greatly “suffer.” Another resident told the Guardian that she “never imagined we would be living like this. Before the war, we managed everything. It’s very difficult and everyone is suffering the same.” 

What Some are Doing to Help

The BMJ report states that funding is being placed into trauma training in order to help Ukrainian people process their mental health struggles. Upon fleeing from Ukraine to Berlin, Vitalii Panok, the director of Ukraine’s Scientific and Methodological Centre of Applied Psychology and Social Work, gathered 40 different Ukrainian psychologists with assistance from the Psychologische Hochschule to help people in Ukraine deal with trauma from the war. 

– Jess Wilkinson
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS Treatment in UkraineThe ongoing war in Ukraine has contributed greatly to poverty both inside and outside of the country. One contributor is the huge interruption the war enforced on HIV and AIDS diagnosis and treatment in the country. Due to the safety risk, 30 medical institutions that provided these services had to close their doors, putting the lives of patients at great risk by restricting their treatment. However, organizations like the Global Fund and the UNAIDS program have provided emergency HIV/AIDS treatment in Ukraine that has served to combat this, thus softening the effect of the war on those living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS in Ukraine Before the War

The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine comes to 0.9%, higher than the world average of 0.7% and one of the highest infection rates in Europe. However, the country looked like it was turning a corner, as in the early 2010s, rates of infection started to decline. This was caused by higher investments in antiretroviral treatment and more support for opioid drug users, who were at higher risk of contracting the disease.

The Effect of the War

After the conflict began in 2014, according to the country director of the UNAIDS program Jacek Tymszko, “HIV totally disappeared from the agenda.” It made providing these vital services much more difficult. More than 30% of people living with HIV/AIDS have experienced an interruption in their treatment since the war began, according to UNAIDS. Equally, many faced displacement as a result of the war and therefore struggled to access these services simply because they no longer had a permanent home.

Emergency HIV/AIDS Treatment

However, due to the help of organizations and programs that focus on providing emergency HIV/AIDS treatment in Ukraine, many HIV/AIDS patients have been able to continue living as normal. In March 2022, the Global Fund provided over $15 million of emergency funding to Ukraine to maintain HIV and TB testing and treatment services and an additional $10.3 million donation in February. These provisions have contributed to retrofitting vans to deliver medicines to patients, community-led organizations that link patients to HIV and TB services and mental health services specifically for those with the disease.

The U.N. has also contributed to providing emergency HIV/AIDS treatment to Ukraine through the Joint United Nationals Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). It released an initial $200,000 in emergency funding in February 2023 to support the seven cities facing significant HIV epidemics. This provided first-aid training and kits to community-based organizations aiming to sustain HIV services, direct humanitarian assistance to those living with HIV with food certificates and STI testing kits and providing shelters for displaced people.

Results of Support

Due to the support of organizations such as the Global Fund and UNAIDS, there has been a reduction in the impact of the war on those living with HIV/AIDS. However, there are still those living with HIV/AIDS that are suffering as a result of the war, highlighting the need for more effort. Prior to the war, the Word Bank estimated that 260,000 people were living with HIV in Ukraine. Since then, around 15,000 of these people have lost treatment due to displacement. There is still room for more support to help affected people access life-saving services and prevent the disease from spreading.

– Erin Latham
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in UkraineThe situation of disability and poverty in Ukraine has reached unprecedented levels due to the ongoing conflict with Russia. As native Ukrainians flee the war-torn areas in search of safety and peace, individuals with disabilities are often left behind, unable to defend themselves. A recent study conducted by UNHCR revealed that among the nearly 18,000 fleeing Ukrainians, 22% reported having family members with unmet specific needs, further exacerbating the challenges faced by displaced individuals with disabilities. In April 2022, UNHCR reported that approximately “2.7 million people with disabilities” were at risk due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

According to CNN, Russian forces have targeted more than 700 health care facilities, averaging one attack for every 10 facilities. These attacks have not only caused fatalities and injuries but have also displaced many individuals who are unable to access the necessary care and support to meet their needs.

War and Poverty in Ukraine

Prior to the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, Ukraine had been experiencing a consistent decline in poverty rates, stabilizing at 37.8% in 2019. However, the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 caused a significant increase, soaring to 43.6% and erasing years of progress.

With the war persisting in Ukraine for nearly 16 months, the World Bank has projected a further alarming rise in the national poverty line, reaching close to 60% by the end of 2022. This means that more than 7 million individuals living below the poverty line in Ukraine are unable to afford essential resources for survival due to a severe lack of income.


Since the start of the war in Ukraine, several initiatives have emerged to assist refugees, combat local poverty and aid individuals with disabilities across the country.

One such organization making a difference is Djerela, a Ukrainian-built and operated force of sanctuary. Established in 1996, Djerela has been dedicated to providing support exclusively for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Djerela serves as a safe haven and a peaceful oasis. Throughout the week, it organizes dances and other activities in the evenings, offering a space for family members to embrace their loved ones. To ensure maximum tranquility and safety, Djerela’s locations have been relocated to secluded areas while remaining steadfast in their mission.

Regional and International Support

The European Disability Forum (EDF) and the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine, along with 120 public organizations, have joined forces to provide support for individuals with disabilities. The focus is currently on locating and housing people with disabilities, which are crucial conversations taking place.

Throughout Ukraine, regional affiliations and local efforts are unfolding, with participation and ongoing support from neighboring nations.

Since 1988, Inclusion Europe has been advocating for the rights of intellectually disabled individuals. The organization has played a vital role in fostering education and creating equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities of all ages. Representing individuals with disabilities from 38 European countries, Inclusion Europe reported that 60% of those with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine live with family members.

In 2022, Inclusion Europe received more than €630,000 in donations to support people with disabilities. The donations are currently in use to improve access to medicines and other necessities for individuals with disabilities.

Donation summaries released by Inclusion Europe focus on “helping people with intellectual disabilities and their families.” The organization has utilized these donations for individual cash contributions, benefiting 470 Ukrainians with disabilities, providing care for eight individuals with disabilities for 10 days, and supporting maintenance projects in the surrounding areas.

Looking Ahead

Amid the challenging circumstances faced by individuals with disabilities in Ukraine, there are glimmers of hope and ongoing efforts to provide support and assistance. Organizations like Djerela and Inclusion Europe are working tirelessly to create safe spaces, offer essential resources and advocate for the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities. Regional and international support networks are joining forces to address the unique challenges affecting the vulnerable population, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and providing a ray of hope for a brighter future for individuals with disabilities in Ukraine.

– Chandler Doerr
Photo: Flickr

Future of Ukraine
The future is often war’s largest casualty. For some 8,000 Ukrainian civilians and 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers who have fought to preserve their homeland, the future no longer exists. Nearly 14 million civilians are now disconnected from their homes. The future of Ukraine stands on a knife’s edge; however, a year after Russia’s invasion, there is at least a future to discuss. Moreover, there is a growing consensus that Ukraine’s recovery requires planning right now.

Economic Devastation

On February 23, 2023, the United Nations called for an immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukrainian territory. Although Putin, known for his violations of international law, will almost certainly ignore the resolution, it does beg the question of what a post-war Ukraine would look like. As a result of the war, a third of the country lives in poverty, with another 60% at risk of falling into poverty should the conflict continue. The war has destroyed $100 billion of infrastructure and forced 50% of businesses to close.

Marshall Plan for Ukraine?

Given this financial and physical devastation, one may wonder exactly what the future of Ukraine is. Participants during the Davos 2023 Summit discussed that rebuilding the country would require a recovery program comparable only to the Marshall Plan after World War II. With that plan, the United States contributed the equivalent of almost $200 billion to western Europe in aid. A Marshall Plan for Ukraine would cost three times as much as the original and would have to overcome the hesitancy of nations like the U.S. to further involve themselves in the country.

Estimates for Recovery

In September 2022, the World Bank, the European Commission and the Ukrainian government place the recovery estimate at $349 billion, of which around $100 billion is needed for short-term recovery. This includes financing the rebuilding of hospitals, schools, roads and bridges. It also consists of the clearing mines that prevent the cultivation of Ukraine’s fertile soil. In a separate communication a few months earlier, Ukrainian President Zelensky declared the target figure at $750 billion, citing the need for repatriation, humanitarian assistance and modernization.

Commitment to Providing Aid

Although allies are shying away from direct military assistance, international aid is crucial in keeping Ukraine afloat. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) leads the charge, which provided $12 billion in 2022 and plans to augment that support in 2023. This aid goes primarily to health care workers and educators, protecting the future of Ukraine in the short and long term. Additionally, the World Bank provided more than $18 billion in grants and loans for Ukraine as of February 2023, the vast majority of which comes from the United States.

Supporting Ukraine: In the Best Interest for Europe and Beyond

The future of Ukraine remains incredibly uncertain. However, a consensus is emerging that the situation cannot remain fraught when the war comes to an end. A weakened or failed Ukraine is a security threat to Europe and would create a refugee crisis because Ukrainian refugees would have no need to return to their country. As the Financial Times wrote in December 2022, “The potential geopolitical cost of failure is high…The fighting continues, but the time to plan for peace is now.”

– Samuel Bowles
Photo: Flickr