“Even in the chaos of war, effective mental health input can be rapidly and cheaply provided and should be encouraged.” 

Kateryna Yavna

Ukraine lead, Children and War UK

Almost 7,000 children in Ukraine have been helped to cope with the trauma of war through our TRT programme, according to a new report in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

One month after the Russian invasion of February 2022, CAW UK were invited by Ukrainian NGOs to provide initial training for a programme there to provide psychological support for children traumatised by the war. The success of this programme is assessed in the Journal, in an article written by our Ukraine lead Kateryna Yavna and late trustee Bill Yule.

“Even in the chaos of war,” Kateryna writes, “effective mental health input can be rapidly and cheaply provided and should be encouraged.”

Kateryna and her colleagues immediately set up a high-impact, low-cost ‘cascade’ model for training 17 Ukrainian psychologists and therapists in TRT, who could then train a further 392 Ukrainian psychologists to use TRT among affected children. As a result, some 6,877 children in the war-torn country have received TRT so far, either face to face or online.

Up to 92% of children across all age groups and settings reported beneficial effects, according to a scientifically conducted survey described in the article. Because they were reached through the cascade model, and helped in groups, the cost of this intervention was only US$50 per child.

“This is the largest reported use of teaching recovery techniques (TRT) in a crisis situation” writes Kateryna, “delivered while the war continued and conducted both within Ukraine in very high risk and lower risk areas as well as outside Ukraine. This demonstrated that TRT could be rapidly upscaled by facilitator cascade training and that a large number of C/A [children and adolescents] could receive TRT either online or face to face relatively cheaply.”

Our Ukraine programme is a collaboration with a local NGO called Volunteers. They set up a dedicated TRT project, Poruch (‘Close to You’), which was funded by UNICEF and assisted by the Ukrainian Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (UICBT). No charge has been made to the children or their families for receiving help.

TRT has been officially approved for use by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. It is suitable for use not only by specialists but also by any suitable caregiver, such as teachers, nurses, social workers, families and communities.

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Now more than ever, children need help to cope with the trauma they're experiencing.

Children and War UK is working to give them essential tools to reduce the long-term effects of traumatic stress.

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