Ukraine Now: Never so Difficult, Never so Easy

An update from Ukraine.

Ukraine, Russia

Iliya Mitskavets/AdobeStock

Almost 10 months ago, I wrote a short article about the attitude of Ukrainians to the Russian invasion and our trust for victory. Globally, nothing has changed during this time, except that we have become even more convinced.

All this time I have been living and working in Ukraine. I left my country only a few times during this period, attending various professional events. I am currently writing this text by candlelight, sharing mobile internet on my computer. No, this is not the creation of a romantic and cozy atmosphere—it is a new necessity. The Russians are methodically destroying our energy system (power plants and heating system) to make us capitulate. Winter frosts in Ukraine sometimes reach -30 degrees Celsius; Russians probably think that without electricity and heating, we will be forced to give up. But they are wrong again.

Not only will we not break down, but we will also become stronger because the enemy shows its true face every time, destroying everything. People die in hospitals without electricity, schools cannot fully function because it is cold, we cannot cook for ourselves because we depend on resources. But we know that by capitulating, we will live even worse than now.

How do Ukrainian psychologists live? Very differently. Some build a temporary new life abroad and help Ukrainian refugees or work with Ukrainians online, privately or within various initiatives. Many stay in Ukraine and adapt to the new situation.

On Friday, the National Psychological Association of Ukraine held a free training session for the members. On Wednesday, Ukraine once again suffered a massive missile attack. All regions of Ukraine were without electricity, internet, and mobile communications. The capital of our country, Kyiv, had no water supply, heating, internet, or mobile connection for 1.5 days. On Friday, everything began to gradually recover, but many colleagues joined our online training from heating points, special tents where you can warm up and where there is satellite internet. What else do you need to know about Ukrainian psychologists?

The National Psychological Association holds 4 to 5 free events for colleagues every month to improve their qualifications and support. Speakers are foreign volunteers who want to support Ukrainian colleagues. We also organize free supervisions, which are conducted for us by volunteers or colleagues, whose work we pay from donations that go to our account. If you want to become a volunteer, you can contact us npa.trainings@gmail.com. If you want to donate, visit our webpage.

In June, the NPA of Ukraine launched a psychological support hotline, which is provided in the format of audio and video calls. The hotline operates on a single number available from Ukraine 0-800-100-102 from 10:00 to 20:00 every day. All calls are free. To receive a video consultation with a psychologist, the client needs to notify the operator, and they will switch the application to video conferencing. Psychologists-consultants on the line are educated specialists trained in providing crisis interventions, trauma-informed approaches, and topics of violence. All consultations are confidential. If necessary, line psychologists can refer individuals to other specialists.

We also have free numbers in 14 European countries. It means that people who do not know the local language can seek help from Ukrainian psychologists over the borders. Psychological help for Ukrainians abroad is available by toll-free numbers in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Italy, Austria Portugal, Sweden, Ireland, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, and Spain. Our psychologists work on the hotline remotely. They are located in different parts of the country and beyond, and they can also insure each other in case of loss of communication or lighting.

Despite the difficulties we face, many of our members work in field teams and help civilians and military personnel who have experienced various problems. Topics that our colleagues have worked with are psychological (and neurological) consequences of terrorist attacks, genocide, rapes and other sexual crimes, property losses, bereavement, separation, health problems, and economic crises, etc.

Our association also actively cooperates with various ministries, such as the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. This is important because we can more effectively help and develop different important initiatives for now and the future.

In conclusion, I want to say that living and working in Ukraine today has never been so difficult, but it has never been so easy either, because we make a significant contribution to our victory.

Dr Palii is president of the National Psychological Association of Ukraine.

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