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Psychological help is organized for Ukrainian refugees in Canada

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

Mental health specialists want to help Ukrainian refugees who fled their country victim of Russian aggression.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Alexandra Froese, a psychologist from Saskatoon, began hearing testimonies from Canadian-Ukrainians seeking mental health help as their home country was under merciless siege.

“They lived in great anguish watching events unfold, helping family members who were refugees here or grieving,” she says. “Ukrainians in Canada need as much help as Ukrainian refugees who come to Canada. ‘install here’.

Mrs Froese, herself of Ukrainian origin, says her parents still live in Ukraine. Although they are still in good health, the psychologist says she is not immune to the pain Ukrainian-Canadians feel.

She wants to use her experience in the field of trauma to help these people.

“I feel the duty to do everything I can, or at least try everything I can”.

Ms. Froese started working on a voluntary basis. She says she wrote a guide in Ukrainian and sent copies to groups helping people flee Ukraine. She joined a group of volunteers who are setting up a website listing readily available mental health resources.

According to the psychologist, providing people with basic information about mental health can help to reinforce feelings of safety and well-being.

“After traumatic events, most of us can recover easily with minimal support. It’s more about knowing how to sort out people’s needs.”

Dr. Dillon Browne, of the Canada Research Chair in Child and Family Psychology at the University of Waterloo, says he observed on social networks like Instagram or TikTok how the war was presented.

He has already done extensive research on children’s mental health. He has studied the effects of digital media on young people.

Dr. Browne realized that Ukrainians were not shy about sharing very crude videos.

“We really present explicit images,” he notes. It made me wonder if we could do something.”

The level of anxiety varies among people who watch war content on the internet. Dr. Browne points out that it’s not unusual for a child to have nightmares because of what they’ve seen in the media.

He tries to convince his Ontario colleagues to offer voluntary help. It received a large number of positive responses.

“I was skeptical because of everything we’ve been through [pendant la pandémie de COVID-19]. It seems like the invasion has rekindled something in people because the situation is so dire.”

The Canadian Psychological Association has jumped on the bandwagon. She is compiling a list of psychologists willing to provide services to Ukrainian-Canadians across the country.


This article was produced with the financial support of the Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.