Caritas Czech Republic is organizing a training in crisis psychological support for Caritas Ukraine staff on Monday, 28th February. Psychologists from the Czech Fire Rescue Corps will train our Ukrainian colleagues on how to provide psychological care to people affected by the ongoing war. A similar training took place in 2015. Due to the Russian invasion, our colleagues in Ukraine had to interrupt their social and health care programmes in many parts of the country. However, they are determined to provide the necessary psychosocial assistance for those affected by the difficult situation the last days.
"People in Ukraine are now experiencing a mixture of negative emotions such as fear, anger, resentiment, surprise. The world, which, just a few days ago had some order, changed in a few hours. The future that people had hoped for just disappeared before their eyes," explains former military and firefighter psychologist Jiří F. Průža, who is involved in conducting the training. "Experiencing no vision of better future affects the ability to meet basic needs such as frequent nutrition or safety," Průža adds.
The psychological and humanitarian impact of war
The current war in Ukraine has created a huge humanitarian crisis that is rapidly worsening. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 2.9 million inhabitants were already in need of humanitarian aid. As a result of the currently raging war, hundreds of thousands more have had to flee their homes. The UNHCR is estimating that at least 160 000 people are affected, while the numbers are rising dramatically. In addition, many Ukrainians are dealing with the loss of their loved ones, permanent stress and other effects of this week's traumatic events. The huge uncertainty is exacerbating the mental state of many people who have been under long-term pressure for the past eight years.
Crisis intervention training
"Psychological support is one of the core services that humanitarian organisations can currently provide. We are therefore trying to transfer knowledge from the Czech Republic to our colleagues in Ukraine, who are now directly helping people on the ground," explains Evžen Diviš, Caritas Czech Republic regional manager.
The crisis psychological support training for Caritas Ukraine staff, which will take place on Monday, will therefore specifically focus on emergency support for victims of traumatic events and the prevention of burnout syndrome.
Psychologists from the Fire Rescue Corps of the Czech Republic, who will lead the training, have offered their services to Caritas. The cooperation builds on previous cycles of psychological support that the two organisations jointly organised in 2014 and 2015. Thanks to this, the psychologists have a good knowledge of the Ukrainian context and can tailor the training to the current needs in Ukraine.
Support and assistance
According to psychologist Průža, the training has two levels. "The first is our efforts to keep in touch with our colleagues in Ukraine who are helping to provide psychosocial support to people affected by the terrible war. We want them to know that we are thinking of them, that we are deeply affected by their fate," explains Průža. "In this regard, we consider it as beneficial to offer them the opportunity to share with us their emotions, thoughts and experiences," he adds.
The second important level that Průža mentions is the offer of consultations regarding procedures on working with trauma and overwhelming stress. During the training, together with Tomáš Adámek from the Fire Rescue Corps, they will train the perticipants in several trauma stabilization techniques that can be used both by themselves and also during their work with people affected by the war. "We do not feel ourselves in the role of lecturers of our colleagues, rather, we want to share our experience with them, to support them in their difficult situation," said Průža.
Caritas Czech Republic´s aid in Ukraine
Caritas will fund the training through its ongoing humanitarian public collection called Caritas for Ukraine. Its gains will be used not only for psychosocial support, but especially for providing basic needs such as water, food, hygienic material and shelter. As the situation on the ground is evolving dramatically, we are now working closely with our colleagues in Ukraine on further activities and are involved in early relief efforts.
Thank you for your support