Yale psychiatrists help Ukraine deal with trauma

A group of 20 psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers from Ukraine who are visiting Yale this week report that their embattled country lacks trained professionals to deal with growing demand for mental health services. A team of Yale experts are working with the visitors to help them learn to deal with untreated psychological wounds from last year’s violent suppression of protests in Kyiv (Kiev) as well as new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from ongoing battles with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukraine.

“We lack sufficient resources to address these needs,” said delegation member Dr. Volodymyr Pohorilyy through a translator. “The effects of this violence, if left untreated, are like landmines that will cause damage in our country for decades to come."

The delegation members are being trained to deal with after-effects of trauma by a team of Yale experts, including Dr. John Krystal, the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Professor of Translational Research and chair of the Department of Psychiatry; Dr. Steven Southwick, the Glenn H. Greenberg Professor of Psychiatry, PTSD, and Resilience; and Dr. Steven Marans, the Harris Professor in the Yale Child Study Center.

“We know training 20 people won’t meet the needs of a country of 45 million people, but each of the people here will train many more people,” Krystal said. “This is just the tip of the spear that will have much greater impact in years to come.”

Officials from the Ukraine and Krystal also announced plans for ongoing collaborations.