31 March 2022

Ukraine conflict: MHE Roundtable of 25 March

MHE held a Roundtable with members on 25 March to gather information about the mental health challenges being faced by people fleeing Ukraine (as well as those remaining or unable to leave the country), and those supporting them in the neighbouring countries and throughout Europe.


Since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, MHE has been liaising with members from neighbouring or nearby countries (Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania) to closely monitor the evolving situation, and discuss the best possible way to address the needs for mental health and psychosocial services. The Roundtable included the following topics:


  • Short and long term needs and implications for Ukraine and receiving countries around mental health
  • What is currently being done to provide support on the ground
  • Information exchange and consultation with MHE Members from Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Italy
  • The synergies with other institutions (European Commission, WHO, Red Cross, etc.)


During the exchanges, it was recognised that the need for mental health support is not only temporary but will require a medium and long-term multisectoral approach that expands to communities. The roundtable exchanges highlighted that:

  • NGOs have played a key role in dealing with the emergency and in supporting the mental health of those fleeing the war in Ukraine. There is a need to coordinate the actions carried out by civil society and ensure their sustainability by hiring volunteers and by providing NGOs with funding.
  • It is important to facilitate training and provide guides on mental health and trauma addressed to the entire population in Europe (hospitals, refugees centres, school/education professionals, host families, healthcare, general public).
  • It is vital to support the supporters (“care for the carers”), by looking after the mental health needs of those providing help as well as by monitoring media representation of refugees (preventing distinction between good and bad refugees, avoiding misinformation and xenophobic discourse).


Furthermore, an MHE Member in neighbouring Poland articulated how the situation is not easy and that the funds are coming mainly from the local level. A question was raised if the European Commission can facilitate allocation of EU funds from the national to the local level to help with the current crisis. This question is relevant to all the other neighbouring countries.


MHE Board Member Pino Pini concluded: “We need to work more and more with communities in order to develop better understanding, human resources, and solidarity between people.”

See Twitter Thread
Visit MHE's Ukraine webpage

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