03 March, 2022

Statement on Ukraine war

Ukraine flag flying in the wind.

Staff of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) express objections to the human rights violations being perpetrated in Ukraine.

As mental health professionals committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, the Chief Executive Officer, Medical Director, members of the staff of SPMHS, along with members of our Service User and Supporters Council, are writing to the Russian Ambassador to Ireland condemning the recent attack in Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and expressing our abhorrence and objections to the human rights violations being perpetrated.

Beyond the most immediate human rights violations resulting from the actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, the violence and trauma perpetrated on the children and adults of Ukraine will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the physical and mental health of those affected and for societal wellbeing.

UNICEF has highlighted that the hostilities in Ukraine pose an immediate threat to the lives and wellbeing of the country’s 7.5 million children. We support the calls of UNICEF and the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, amongst many others, for a suspension of all military actions in Ukraine to protect the lives, safety and wellbeing of children.

Furthermore, the perilous and appalling circumstances faced by the 2.7 million people with disabilities living in Ukraine, as a result of the military actions by the Russian Federation, have been reported. For example, the European Disability Forum has highlighted the desperate situation of people with disabilities for whom shelters are inaccessible, or who are living in institutions.

We call for an immediate end to all hostilities in Ukraine, and highlight the obligations of the Russian Federation under both the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in addition to the broader and fundamental human rights commitments espoused by the United Nations Charter.

We understand that the situation in Ukraine may be causing a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. If you are concerned about your mental health or if you are in distress, help is available: you can find supports and services here.

How to look after your mental health in response to what's happening in Ukraine

How to look after your mental health in response to what's happening in Ukraine

Get credible, balanced information

Being mindful about the information and media coverage you are following may be helpful at this time. Stick to reliable sources of information and fact-checked news; try not to rely on social media as the only place you find out about what’s going on; and avoid doom-scrolling (spending long amounts of time following negative posts and developments). Making thoughtful choices about how regularly you check the news and the kinds of media you follow can help you to stay informed without becoming overwhelmed.

Concentrate on what you can control

If we feel like we don’t have control over a situation, this can make us anxious or worried. However, it is important to remember that, whatever the situation, there are always things we can control to help us manage our feelings. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, for example, you can help yourself to control this by doing something that relaxes you, whether that’s practicing mindfulness, going for a run, or even just watching a favourite television show. Talking to your friends and family can also be helpful: chatting together, listening to how they’re feeling, and sharing concerns can do wonders to lift your mood, change your perspective, or remind you that you are not alone.

Look after your wellbeing

Taking time to look after yourself is essential to good mental health during difficult times. Continuing to eat regularly, stay hydrated, get fresh air and exercise, take time to rest and get enough sleep are all important for maintaining our wellbeing.

What techniques have you used before to help you deal with anxiety? Lots of us have little tips and tricks which can help us feel better, and now is a good time to think back on them and put them into practice.

If you are living with a mental health condition and have gone through care and treatment, you may also have built up strategies or mental health toolboxes with your therapist or care team to help when you are in distress. Bring back the tools and steps you have used before and reflect on advice from your care team which can help ease feelings of stress or unease.

And, of course, if you do feel like you need some extra support at the moment, please talk to your GP or contact your care team to get on your road to recovery.

Where to find information

Where to find information

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Ireland shares regular updates and advice about what’s happening in the Ukraine, including where to find supports for Irish and Ukrainian citizens seeking help. You can visit the DFA website or follow the DFA’s social media to learn more.

The United Nations (UN) provides news and resources about the Ukraine: visit the UN website to find out more.

How to support people in Ukraine

How to support people in Ukraine

So many of us are doing what we can to support people in the Ukraine.

Because of the costs and logistical difficulties with transporting food, clothing and other humanitarian supplies, many sources are recommending that the most effective way of getting support to the Ukraine is to make a donation.

You can make donations specifically for Ukraine through many aid agencies, including:

What to do if you are worried about your mental health

If you are worried about your mental health, talking to someone you trust and going to your GP are important first steps. Learn more on how to start getting the help you need here.

We also have more information on anxiety and how to deal with, and on how to manage your mental health in difficult times, below.

What to do if you are worried about your mental health