War is a collective traumatic experience. Based on the latest reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 4 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. Of this number, 2.5 million have looked to neighboring Poland for safety.
When such life-altering events compromise physical safety, effects on mental health and well-being are likely to follow. According to the UNHCR’s Resettlement Handbook, 39 to 100 per cent of refugees present with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in addition to high rates of depression.
Unyte is extremely grateful for the providers who’ve continued working incredibly hard on the ground and helping Ukrainian refugees as they arrive in Poland. As therapists, clinicians, educators, and mental health professionals, what you do is essential in healing trauma and guiding people toward resilience, and we’re dedicated to supporting you and your work in any way we can.
Efforts currently underway
Leading our efforts is Kim Barthel, a longtime friend and partner of Unyte. In collaboration with Kim and Polish SSP providers Karolina Zienkiewicz in Wrocław and Maja Molska-Franczak in Warsaw, we’re currently in weekly discussions with a group of providers in Poland to learn how we as a community can best help the population in need.
“We would like to make sure that, apart from SSP, our beneficiaries will have access to psychological help and [a] support network,” said Karolina and Maja, who are currently extending support to individuals qualified to regulate and contain clients in case of high activation due to PTSD and who can work directly with those affected by this crisis. “That is why we would like to offer the project to organizations in Poland who already have such systems in place and possess years of experience in handling adults and children in crisis.”
The number of Ukrainian refugees who’ve entered Poland far exceeds the initial expectations of 1 million. Due to strained resources, among those working day in and day out to assist locally are first and second responders, another group that Karolina and Maja are aiming to support.
Along with her team at Relationship Matters, Kim is also aiming to help first responders, refugees and their families by directly supporting the provision of ambulances, medical equipment, food and water to all the areas in Ukraine that need it.
Kim has a wealth of experience and connection in war response and refugee crises. She is focused on supporting therapists, support workers and volunteers, and mitigating burnout among this group. She also plans to use the SSP as part of her approach. (It’s important to note that Kim and Dr. Stephen Porges emphasize that the SSP should not be delivered to adults who are experiencing “shock trauma,” or in other words who are in the midst of crisis.)
Learn more about Kim Barthel and Relationship Matters via their website.
We’ll aim to share more updates with our community as these projects continue to unfold.
Supporting local organizations
In addition to collaborating with our community in Poland, Unyte will be making a donation to the Voices of Children Foundation, a Ukrainian organization that aims to provide psychological and psychosocial support to children who’ve been affected by the war since 2015.
“Today, during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are providing non-stop assistance to affected children and families from all over the country, providing emergency psychological assistance, and assisting in the evacuation process,” the organization says on its website.
To learn more and make a donation, visit their website here.