Ukraine news: Inside a hospital tackling mental-health crisis

For 12 months, the images triggering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have dominated the front pages and nightly newscasts. But inside Lviv’s emergency hospital, innocent civilians and soldiers are fighting another elusive battle.

According to Dr. Oleh Berezyuk, who leads a team of psychiatrists and psychotherapists who strive to heal the minds and spirits of victims, civilians are suffering from extreme depression, and members of the military have alarming levels of depression. showing anxiety. of the war entering its second year of death.

“Trains arrive every Thursday, Friday or Saturday,” Berezuk says. CTV National News joined the Ukrainian doctor and his team of 10 for weekly rounds. Each of the rooms we visited also had rooms with up to six of his beds and housed at least four of his patients, each dealing with their own traumatic experiences.

Halfway through the round you come across a couple recuperating together in a room. Maxim and his wife Valerie are recovering after stepping on a mine in their hometown of Bahmut. Maxim says as tears stream down his face. He lost almost everything. ”

As Berejuk talks to the couple, air raid sirens sound throughout the hospital and Lviv. A possible oncoming missile pauses the bedside therapy session, but only for a moment. Sirens no longer startle Maxim. But he admits that the carts and wheelchairs in the hospital sound like “fighters coming in.”

Maxim and his wife Valerie are recovering after stepping on a mine in their hometown of Bahmut. (Photo: Adrian Gobrial)

A 12-month war has created a mental health crisis across Ukraine. The full picture is revealed when we join the team of doctors. Their patients arrived from besieged villages and battlefields in the East.

I meet a 72-year-old man named Yuri who solves a daily newspaper crossword. The morning sun falls on the bed he sits on. Bakhmut’s senior lost part of his right leg when a missile landed beside him while outside. The crossword he nearly completed is actually part of his daily therapy after four months of mental health treatment.

“Reading, crosswords, or just doing rational exercises like counting or subtracting 7 from 100 are treatments for PTSD,” says Berezyuk.

What’s happening at this hospital may not seem progressive to North Americans, but to Ukraine. Previously, treatment was provided only in Soviet-era psychiatric institutions. The important work being done here is funded in part by donations from Canadians through the Red Cross.

I asked Berejuk if it was fair to assume that everyone in Ukraine is traumatized on some level.

Berezyuk, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, was quick to respond. What are you going to do tomorrow? This is part of your treatment.

Even if tomorrow doesn’t look promising, Berezyuk says, “We still have to look ahead.”

Many of the people we met have hopes for a future where their families will be reunited and their wounds will heal from within.

Watch the full report Wednesday night on CTV National News

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