Thursday, March 3, 2022

APA Issues Statement on Ukraine, Offers Tips for Working With Patients Affected by War

Yesterday APA issued a statement on the war in Ukraine and offered resources to assist health professionals in protecting the mental health of refugees, immigrants, and those displaced during crisis situations.

“The war in Ukraine will have adverse mental health effects on individuals and communities around the world,” said Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., APA CEO and medical director, and Joshua Morganstein, M.D., chair of APA’s Committee on the Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster, in a media release. “The American Psychiatric Association sends our support to all who are experiencing pain and suffering from these deeply troubling events, including those directly exposed to armed conflict; those displaced from their homes and country; those providing care and protection to civilians, friends, and family of Ukrainian citizens; and the Ukrainian diaspora around the globe.

APA supports the care of all immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, and all within Ukraine with dignity and respect and strongly advocates for the provision of evidence-based and culturally competent mental health support for those affected through early interventions to mitigate the distress and the treatment of mental health conditions that may arise.”

APA offered the following tips for health professionals who treat patients affected by the war:

  • Ensure their safety, both physical and that of the treasured belongings they may have brought (for example, locked trunks, etc.).
  • Connect them to loved ones when possible.
  • Use calming techniques that are nuanced to their culture.
  • Be alert to illnesses present in their population—from diabetes to hypertension to schizophrenia.
  • Remain aware and sensitive to trauma history.
  • Be aware that children need the presence of caregivers and clear responses to their questions, but not to be overloaded with frightening information.
  • Help people with problem-solving that is caring and supportive.
  • Recruit “helpers” to assist others and have them extend your care.

The statement also contains links to guidance from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, as well as links to organizations that support Ukrainian citizens and others affected by the war.

For related information, see the Focus article “Practicing Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility in the Care of Diverse Patients.”

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