War refugees and mental health challenges: Lost homes, lost identities
War and conflict changes refugees’ lives beyond all recognition. Forced to leave their homes and everything they know and love, refugees face an unknown future in a different country, along with all the challenges this brings.
Fear and displacement take a huge toll on people’s mental health and the effects are often severe and pervasive. Let’s explore further…
Depression, anxiety, PTSD and more…
Conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are just a few of the complex mental health issues that can result from the trauma of war and displacement. For refugees who’ve endured physical abuse, the death of loved ones or other traumatic experiences, mental health symptoms can be severe and long-lasting.
Also, the challenging reality of life as a refugee may contribute to mental health problems. Worries about the future, along with lack of safety and restricted access to basic needs like food and shelter can lead to feelings of pessimism and despair. Long after conflict has ended, the mental impact of war and displacement remains stubbornly persistent.
Often, the trauma and stress many refugees experience has a life-long impact, making it difficult to form friendships, gain employment and settle in a new country. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, identity loss and a sense of disconnection from their surroundings.
What can we do to help?
It’s vital that refugees’ mental health needs are recognised and taken seriously. Host-countries can help by:
- Providing access to mental health support services,
- Working to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and;
- Promoting public policies that prioritize the welfare of people affected by war.
If refugees receive the help they need from mental health support services, they can start the fragile recovery process and begin to heal from the trauma of war and displacement.
Make refugees welcome
Building a society that welcomes and supports refugees is one of the most powerful ways to support refugees’ mental health. This means removing obstacles that prevent refugees from receiving mental health care and education, as well as making the effort to offer a hospitable and encouraging environment.
Push for change
We can’t overstate the profound impact of war displacement on mental health. We have a global responsibility to support and empower refugees as they confront the challenges of a displaced life. Countries need to make mental health resources more accessible and widely available, and work hard to reduce the stigma of mental health problems. In the current climate, government policies that promote the well-being of people affected by war must be prioritized.
Individuals can make a difference too. D&S Ukraine is dedicated to restoring the mental health of people who’ve been negatively impacted by the war by giving them access to necessary resources and assistance. Together, we can help refugees recover from their trauma and build hope for a better future. Find out how you can help Ukrainian refugees.