Kyiv, October 27, 2015. According to the World Health Organization, over five million Ukrainians have been affected in the course of hostilities in Donbas. Nearly two million of them are children. At the beginning of 2015 over half a million children lived in Donetsk region. Most of them witnessed military events that unfolded in the region. At a press briefing over skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in the framework of Peaceful Life Spokesperson pilot project, psychologist Tetiana Shulga noted that 11 percent of these children require psychological rehabilitation. There are about a 100 thousand such children in the region. “Fear, sleep disturbance, annoyance and aggression are the first signs that a child needs psychological counseling,” said Shulga. According to her, children of war should get help on two levels. “First of all, a dialogue between parents and children is needed. So we are working not only with the younger generation, but also with their parents to tell them how to react and detect teenage depression. Secondly, work with school psychologists and teachers greatly helps,” said Shulga. Thus, over the year we have held trainings for 400 school psychologists from Donetsk region. The trainings were held in cooperation with the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University, supported by the Ministry of Education and Science and by the International Maltese Aid Service. “With this help we were able to conduct individual and group sessions for over 10 thousand children and several thousand school teachers,” said Shulga.
Children also get help from Kramatorsk Free House youth volunteer platform. “We are working in three ways. The first one is mentoring. We search for hostility-affected families in our city. Now we are working with five families and 14 children of these families. The second project is working with local pediatrics. This is, in particular, the Orphans’ Custody center. We provide food, clothing and hygienic supplies. Third, we conduct screenings and master classes for local boarding schools,” informed Anastasia Slavyanska, Administrator of the Free House platform. She emphasized that Free House provides psychological help to anyone.
Nonetheless, according to psychologists and social activists, the most important thing is to detect signs of anxiety in children who have witnessed hostilities in Donbas and seek professional help. After all, there is a high risk that in the future these children may become victims or aggressors. They may be incapable of self-fulfillment and proper employment.