How to support yourself and others who are indirectly affected by conflictPosted: 13 Apr 2022
Accentuated by the ongoing global panic, the events that have unfolded in Ukraine over the last several weeks are shocking and upsetting, and experts agree feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly natural response.
For those directly affected by the current unrest in Eastern Europe, a number of crisis helplines are available to call free-of-charge, and we’ve gathered further resources on dealing with grief and PTSD awareness. For those sharing the distress of a nation from afar, the following information is designed to help you support yourself, your family and others indirectly affected by conflict.
We also spoke to the Samaritans (a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout Great Britain and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline) about their tips on how to support ourselves and each other through this turbulent time.
It’s worth saying first that as the people of Ukraine deal with war on their doorstep, it’s natural to experience feelings of guilt when you choose to switch off from the news. You may ask yourself, ‘how can we possibly take a step back when people in parts of Eastern Europe are fighting for their lives?’, but it’s important to accept that focusing on your own day-to-day life does not mean you’ve stopped caring about the lives and strife of others. Social media in 2022 is all-consuming, which means it’s especially important to govern screen time in times of crisis.
“Take a look at what push notifications you allow for each app,” UK and Ireland charity Samaritans tells us. “Turning off alerts to news and social media apps might help you to make a more conscious choice about when to open apps and give you more control over when you read news.”
Samaritans says that curating your social media feeds can help you have more control over what you actually read and see, therefore following trusted news sources is important – as is blocking or muting unhelpful and potentially untrustworthy accounts. On Twitter, for example, you can take this process one step further by choosing to filter or mute certain words, terms and hashtags in order to prevent certain content from appearing on your feed.
The idea of conflict is an unfamiliar one for many people living in European countries, which makes feelings of anxiety around what might be around the corner on a global scale perfectly normal. Mental health charity Mind stresses the fact that anxiety is a natural human response, one that’s experienced whenever we feel under any sort of potential threat. To this end, while often uncomfortable, feeling anxious may be how we’re expected to feel in trying circumstances such as what we’re seeing in Ukraine, and doesn’t necessarily mean someone is experiencing issues of mental health by feeling anxious in these instances.
Still, anxiety can be a very difficult thing to process – this information provided by Mind explains what anxiety and panic attacks are; and includes possible causes, and how you can access treatment and support for yourself and others. Should you wish to explore other, more hands-on avenues of support for Ukraine and other areas experiencing conflict – such as attending peaceful protests and donating to charity – this list of information and advice from Global Citizen provides 29 meaningful ways you can contribute and help out from afar.
No matter how you engage with the conflict in Ukraine, or any other conflict for that matter, being mindful of how much you consume can be crucial to your mental health and sense of wellbeing.
Samaritans adds: “Try setting a limit for your screen time, or allow yourself a set time for reading the news. Remember: If you’re struggling, you’re not on your own. Talk to your friends, family or someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Or, if you don’t feel like you have anyone you can turn to, our volunteers are here to listen if you need to talk it through.”
If you require support related to any of the above, or anything else related to the mental health and wellbeing of yourself or others, you can contact Samaritans FREE any time on 116 123. Samaritans can also be reached via email email@example.com with a response time of 24 hours.
For global resources, please visit our Find Help Page where you can find a wealth of helplines, support and information relating to where you are in the world.