Get Informed, Stay Inspired

Experts from Ukraine are examining how Australia provides care for individuals who have experienced trauma.

Experts from Ukraine are examining how Australia provides care for individuals who have experienced trauma.

Mental health experts from Ukraine say they have been inspired by Australia’s treatment of refugees. During their visit to Australia, the experts said they hope their experience will help Ukrainian civilians and service personnel who have suffered bereavement, displacement and family separation since the Russian invasion.

Seven mental health professionals from Ukraine have spent nearly three months in Australia, learning about ways to treat trauma, particularly in refugees, and the role of community-based therapists.

Australia grants visas to about 13,750 refugees each year. In 2022, the Canberra government announced 16,500 additional places for displaced migrants from Afghanistan, a plan that runs through the end of 2026.

Advocates claim that in Ukraine, there is a long-standing culture of stoicism where men, in particular, are hesitant to openly discuss their issues.

The use of psychiatry in Ukraine has been met with doubt due to its history of being utilized by the former Soviet Union to classify political opponents as mentally unstable and incarcerate them. Mental health services in Ukraine are primarily provided in hospitals and clinics, rather than in the community.

With the assistance of Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, perceptions towards mental health are evolving.

Dr. Dmytro Martsenkovskyi, a visiting psychiatrist from Ukraine, shared with VOA his admiration for Australia’s methods of treating individuals who have experienced trauma.

Martsenkovskyi expressed that it was uplifting to witness the prioritization of mental health in Australia. This may be attributed to the country’s acceptance of refugees, including those who have experienced war and trauma. As a result, proper mental health care is seen as a national strategy in Australia.

Martsenkovskyi suggested that his country should adopt a comparable method for addressing mental health issues.

Martsenkovskyi stated that Ukraine is now facing a similar situation, particularly considering the widespread violence targeting civilians during the war. Sadly, many individuals have been directly affected by war-related events and have lost loved ones, which greatly impacts their mental well-being.

The trip was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and involved collaboration with the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors in the state of New South Wales.

The Ukrainian specialists also had a meeting with the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and the state Minister for Mental Health of New South Wales, Rose Jackson.

In the aftermath of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Australia has emerged as a major non-NATO supporter of Ukraine’s war efforts. It has provided assistance in the form of missiles, armored vehicles, special operations vehicles, trucks, and trailers.

The city of Canberra has implemented sanctions on numerous Russian officials, such as President Vladimir Putin, military leaders, and individuals in the business world. These are the most extensive consequences that Australia has ever enforced against another nation.