The impact the war in Ukraine has had on children’s mental health is one that caught the attention of Stress Free Kids. Since we have been a leader in introducing stress and anxiety-reducing techniques to children, we felt compelled to take the lead and translate our titles into Ukrainian. Our most known titles, beautifully illustrated by Ukrainian artist Max Stasuyk are now available in Ukrainian for parents, teachers, psychologists, and anyone supporting or working with a child from Ukraine. Stress and anxiety-reducing techniques of breathing, visualizing, positive self-talk, and progressive muscle relaxation are woven throughout the stories. To learn more about these books, visit the Ukrainian Book Bundle for Children page.
As with all wars, children pay a heavy price. USA Today reports that researchers and advocates are growing increasingly concerned over the state of more than 5 million children displaced by the war. In addition, UNICEF estimates that 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, with long-term implications for their physical and mental health.
Many displaced Ukrainian children are now attending schools and church programs in America. Teachers are helping them adjust to being displaced–reestablishing trust, teaching academics with language barriers, providing emotional support, and looking for signs of trauma. Children who experience traumatic events may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety disorders later in life if they do not receive treatment for their symptoms early.
The CDC lists the following examples of PTSD symptoms:
- Reliving the event over and over in thought or in play
- Nightmares and sleep problems
- Becoming very upset when something causes memories of the event
- Lack of positive emotions
- Intense ongoing fear or sadness
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Constantly looking for possible threats, being easily startled
- Acting helpless, hopeless, or withdrawn
- Denying that the event happened or feeling numb
- Avoiding places or people associated with the event
The impact of war on access to mental health services is a significant concern for many children and families. Often there needs to be more resources and more access to care. Stress Free Kids wants to be part of the solution in helping children. We believe that reading a story to children that introduces them to stress management techniques is a step in the right direction. We must arm our children with tools to counteract the stress, anxiety, and hopelessness they might be experiencing. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom stated perfectly, “Above all, children need an end to this war and sustained peace to regain their childhoods, return to normalcy and begin to heal and recover.”
If you are interested in learning more about these books, visit the Ukrainian Book Bundle for Children page on this website.