My Mental Health Hopes for President Biden’s Emergency NATO Summit in Brussels


Here are 4 hopes for the improvement of the current state of mental health.

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There is hardly a question that military strategy will be the focal point of President Biden’s summit visit to Brussels underway today. Nevertheless, I have some mental health hopes that might be worth some attention.

1. Avail Himself of Psychological Support

I would recommend this for any President in such a situation. I would assume that there is some anguish and potential guilt as to how far to go to help Ukraine without precipitating a Russian chemical or nuclear response. There are no double-blind studies of such decision-making to pave the way. That consideration leads to the emotional weight of having the world’s well-being on your shoulders and, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” critics sniping at your heels. Of course, necessary confidentiality will prohibit learning much about who may be supporting him beyond his wife. From us, he needs our empathy.

2. Help the Resettlement of Refugees

On March 22nd, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that a half million refugees so far have mental health disorders, 30,000 of them severe. Likely, whatever help they have received in the past has been disrupted. UNICEF reports half of all Ukrainian children have been displaced. Later developing disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder and the new classification of prolonged grief disorder are coming. Especially vulnerable are those with major prior trauma and losses. Both the clinicians and patients likely have basic Maslow survival needs as a priority.

3. Partner with Psychiatric Organizations to Help

The American Psychiatric Association, and in particular smaller organizations with expertise in cultural psychiatry and disaster psychiatry, can do what is possible from a telepsychiatry educational and clinical consultation perspective. Perhaps international psychiatry needs its own summit meeting to plan how to help more.

4. Consider Using Knowledge about Responding to Bullies

Though without confirming research, it would seem likely that what can help in addressing bullies in everyday life can apply to Russian societal leadership. That likely includes careful consideration of the risk of appeasement.

It has been a month since the war began, so there is a growing potential of emotionally wearing down. Yet, these mental health repercussions may still be on the rise and need our continuing vigilance.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.

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