european psychiatric association

War in Ukraine: A challenge for mental health care – Joint DGPPN/EPA symposium at the DGPPN Congress

Europe is confronted with a dramatic emergency: a war of aggression that has already caused civil victims, mass displacement and even fear about a nuclear war and energy crisis. There is initial evidence that a proportion of refugees or forcibly displaced persons from Ukraine suffer from the consequences of traumatic events and exhibit psychological problems putting them at risk of mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive and anxiety disorders and relapses in psychotic episodes.

The direct and indirect consequences of this humanitarian catastrophe cannot be estimated at present, but mental healthcare services need to develop or expand strategies to address them, including language- and culture-sensitive care, access to treatment, and caring for the unusually high proportion of children and adolescent refugees in this group.

In a joint symposium, strategies from different countries were presented and discussed, with Chairs Prof. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg (DGPPN President) and Prof. Meryam Schouler-Ocak (Chair of the EPA Committee on Ethical Issues) and speakers Prof. Thomas Wenzel (Austria – “Mental health consequences of forcibly displaced people – an overview”), Prof. Jerzy Samochowiec (Poland – “High number of refugees in Poland – which strategy is being pursued”) and Prof. Schouler-Ocak (Germany – “High number of refugees in Germany – which is the German way?”)