UN trains new school psychologists to help Ukraine’s youth deal with the war

Children evacuated from eastern Ukraine draw and play at a state shelter in Lviv. Image: Reuters/Zohra Bensemra

Around 15,000 newly-trained school psychologists will help young people in Ukraine to deal with the mental scars of the impact of the war with Russia.

UNESCO, the United Nations agency which promotes world peace and security through education & culture, and the Ukraine Ministry of Education & Science have joined forces for this important training scheme.

It comes after a study found that around three-quarters of Ukrainian schoolchildren have experienced stress and a quarter of teenagers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Russia’s invasion at the start of 2022.

There is now an ‘urgent need’, say both agencies, to strengthen psychosocial support to help the young people, along with teachers, recover from the trauma and emotional distress brought on by the war.

Many thousands of children and teenagers continue to live in towns and cities across the country that, in many cases, have been left with heavily damaged infrastructures and facilities.

UNESCO says it is ‘determined’ to support Ukraine in promoting mental health and psychosocial support within the education sector, and hopes that the initiative will ‘amplify the resilience of learners and educators and contribute to reduce the stigma around mental health’.

Fostering resilience amidst war

Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, says: “In recent months, UNESCO and its partners certified 117 psychologists from 24 regions of Ukraine. They will now train 15,000 school psychologists to equip them with the knowledge and competencies necessary to provide mental health and psychosocial support in the context of war.”

Oksen Lisovy, Ukraine’s Minister of Education and Science, says: “We work to respond to today’s challenges so that students can overcome obstacles, achieve academic success and become healthy and responsible citizens.”

The training scheme also ties in with UNESCO’s programme to strengthen the resilience of the education system in Ukraine, supported by its Global Partnership for Education. Funding for the scheme has also come from Japan.

Author: Simon Weedy

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