14 March 2022

6 ways to look after your mental health in times of armed conflicts and global crisis 

As news about the Ukraine conflict dominate headlines, Mental Health Europe is releasing a guide with tips on how to take care of your mental health during these challenging times. 

1. Connect with family and friends 

Staying connected with loved ones is crucial to maintain mental wellbeing. Simply sharing your concerns about the Ukraine conflict with family and friends can be a helpful source of relief. Organising regular meetings with friends can give you a sense of stability during uncertain times. Moreover, it can be a helpful routine to arrange a fixed time to eat dinner together with your family or catch up with friends and colleagues over a lunch. 


Read more tips by the NHS >> 

2. Hold on to daily routines 

During a time of uncertainty, it can be beneficial to build in small routines into your daily life that can lift your spirits and give you a sense of control. Try to divide your day into small activities that you enjoy: this can include pursuing your hobbies, cooking your favourite meals, meeting friends, exercising or spending time in nature. Besides, make sure that you get enough sleep and regularly eat healthy meals. Moreover, your work can be a helpful way to keep you distracted and provide a feeling of productivity and accomplishment. Having a structured plan for your working days with clear boundaries between your work and private life can contribute to support our mental health. 


Check out MHE’s guide on how to cope with stress >> 

3.Take time to talk with your children about the conflict 

As a parent and caregiver, it is important to talk to your children about the conflict. They might have many questions and experience feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and fear. It is helpful to let children share and accept their thoughts and emotions, thereby validating their experience. Additionally, explaining what is being done to resolve the conflict can support in managing their fears. It is also important to remind your children that we are safe and continuing with our lives as best as possible. Take time every day to discuss your children’s worries but also talk about what positive actions are taking place to mitigate the consequences of the conflict.  

Moreover, experts at Save the Children compiled five tips on how to approach a conversation with children about the conflict: 

  • Make time and listen when your child wants to talk 
  • Tailor the conversation to the child 
  • Validate their feelings 
  • Reassure them that adults all over the world are working hard to resolve this 
  • Give them a practical way to help 


Read more about the tips by Save the Children >> 


Find more tips from our Finnish member Mieli >> 

4. Limit your news intake 

While it is important to stay informed about news regarding the Ukraine conflict, try to avoid excessive media consumption. Continuous doom scrolling – spending an excessive amount of time consuming negative news – can increase feelings of anxiety and distress. It is recommended to check the news only at certain times during the day for a limited period. It can also be helpful to check the news with others so that you can discuss any concerns you might have. Furthermore, it is vital to rely on factual information from trusted and reliable news sources and to refrain from engaging with graphic content. 


Learn more from mental health charity Mind, NHS and British Psychological Society >> 

5. Take action – give to others 

If you are feeling helpless and out of control about the events unfolding in Ukraine, helping those in need can in fact support your own wellbeing. Acts of giving and kindness create positive feelings and a sense of reward, give you a feeling of purpose and self-worth while helping you connect with others. There are numerous activities that you can get involved in to help civilians impacted by the Ukraine conflict. 


Find out more about how acts of kindness can support your own wellbeing >> 

6. Seek professional support

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the current situation, do not hesitate to seek professional support. You might find it helpful to speak to a professional counsellor or look for peer support. During peer support, persons with lived experience of mental ill-health support each other by sharing their own experiences. The focus lies on an individual’s strengths and recovery. It is recommended to start your search in your local area as peer support sessions are usually organised on local or national level. 


Check MHE’s map of helplines and services in 36 European countries to support your mental health >> 


The war in Ukraine can have devastating long-term consequences on the mental health of children and young people

Children and young people are bearing the invisible wounds of the conflict in Ukraine. Long-term mitigation strategies will be needed to support those that have been exposed to the conflict in Ukraine. In the immediate and short-term, psycho-social support and access to good quality mental health services are necessary.


Helplines and services to support your mental health

An interactive map gathers information on helplines and services in 34 European countries to support your mental health at times of global crisis (pandemics, Ukraine conflict).


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