The Ukrainians who are living through the Russian invasion, fighting or fleeing from their cities and homes perhaps destroyed by bombs, losing loved ones, are the ones who are suffering without any media network the psychological consequences of this conflict.
But experts warn of an increase in crises due to fear, anxiety and even obsession in millions of people who follow the conflict through television and social networks, and begin to suffer the indirect economic consequences of the invasion.
Turning on the news, CNN, watching Twitter, looking for signs of disaster, the claim that this is the beginning of the apocalypse, waiting for the fatality numbers with your heart in your hand. This added to the anguish of how to explain to the little ones what is happening when the adult himself does not understand it.
For many it is simply too much. An individual and collective reaction that has not been seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world is more fragile and the conflict in Ukraine comes when the other crisis is still in the process of healing.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) indicates that “the war in Ukraine will have adverse effects on the mental health of people and communities around the world.”
It is that this new conflict, which cannot be called a war but an invasion, is a threat to the security not only of the Ukrainians, but of the whole world.
The reactions are diverse, whether you are an adult, a teenager or a child, but they all have something in common: fear and anxiety in the face of possible global changes that cannot be controlled.
Steven Berkowitz, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, discusses this topic on the academic platform and highlights some possible triggers of the mental health crisis and its consequences:
- People were already feeling emotionally overwhelmed by COVID, and when there are signs of recovery, “a new threat” appears.
- This is one of the first traditional wars we have seen since Vietnam. All the others have been civil wars, guerrillas or short-term conflicts, somehow far away, “and we really haven’t experienced anything like this. And we haven’t had wars where nuclear powers were involved in this way, which is an added stress.”
- The Gulf War was seen on television. But now, the war is within reach of the cell phone, the person opens his Twitter or Facebook account and sees explosions, tanks, shootings that are real. Virtually real-time, of deaths that have occurred just 10 minutes earlier.
- It is practically impossible to control the flow of information, while many people develop an obsession with knowing, and what is achieved is enormous misinformation, full of anguish.
Berkowitz adds that teens and college students are already mature enough to discuss what’s going on with them and answer questions.
The little ones basically need to feel safe and protected against images that they can see out of the corner of their eyes and make them feel insecure.
UNICEF said that practically all the kids caught up in the conflict in Ukraine will need psychosocial support.
Experts add that limiting news consumption can also work. Watching or listening to the Ukrainian drama non-stop can really create a level of anxiety and anguish that is difficult to deal with.