by Sydney Walker,
Over the past few weeks, on Sunday nights, Ukrainians living as refugees in the country or elsewhere listened online to expert presentations on mental health and well-being.
A Ukrainian participant told the organizers: Thank you for your support during a very difficult time in my life. I have once again received proof that God is very near. “
Requested by Church leaders in Ukraine and coordinated through the European Central Region Family Services Office, the 90-minute session will address the following topics:
- Emotional self-care in crisis situations
- How to stay calm in an emergency
- Health status during evacuation
- What is counseling and how it can help
- Coping with Grief and Loss
- Understanding and coping with vicarious trauma
- How to Minister to Those Experiencing Emotional Pain
- How to help children and young people face challenges
After the session on Sunday, January 8, Rocío Gutierrez, the Church’s Central Europe Area Family Services Manager, wrote to Church News: Even in the dark, I am always there. “
The coordinators of the project are Sister Koji and Kou Okumura, who are in charge of communication, logistics and coordination. The presenter is a mental health professional who has been called as a Family Service Advisor from Portugal, England and France.
Gutierrez said the European Central region’s translation department provided a “great team of interpreters” to quickly translate the session’s resources and translate them into Ukrainian every Sunday.
“We have two [interpreters] Because they are so personally attached to the situation in Ukraine, it is emotionally difficult to interpret such a painful story,” she said.
In the first week, Gutierrez saw an example of God’s love for the man. A Swiss leader told the Family Services Agency about two deaf people from Ukraine who need emotional support and would like to attend a session if there was a way to get a sign language interpreter.
“The impossible happened. The Lord worked a miracle and within 24 hours we were able to find a Ukrainian sign language interpreter for these members,” Gutierrez said. Told.
Its interpreters join every Sunday from a generator-equipped Ukrainian assembly hall to ensure there is enough power to keep the cameras open while interpreting into Ukrainian sign language. .
The first session had 100 connections, and each connection had at least one participant from their home or meeting place in Ukraine. Presenters introduced topics, showed videos, and gave the opportunity to share stories.
“A lot of people have shared their experiences,” Gutierrez said. “They felt recognized and connected to the end.”
Gutierrez said that people in Ukraine have different needs than refugees who have left the country. For example, in the second week, Ukrainian people attended a session on staying calm in an emergency, and refugees attended a session on well-being during evacuation.
“Comments from people outside Ukraine were about how they feel guilty for leaving their country (survivor guilt) and how difficult life in a new country is. “They shared strengths, coping skills and challenges with each other, were validated, and learned new ways to deal with situations.”
Comments from people in Ukraine focused on how difficult it is to live with fear and uncertainty about the future, unable to plan your own life.
“The sharing portion of the meeting turned into an almost witness meeting. They felt more and more comfortable sharing their experiences, challenges and strengths,” said Gutiérrez. “I could feel the Spirit in both sessions.”
In the past few weeks, organizers have learned that many Ukrainian members in Kyiv have been hit by a power outage, with some attending webinars from their mobile phones in complete darkness. Some translators do not have electricity. Seminars are recorded for those unable to attend live while respecting the privacy of participants sharing their experiences.
As the sessions continued, participants requested more hands-on exercises such as breathing, relaxation, mindfulness, and grounding. Feedback has been very positive, according to Gutiérrez.
Zoom sessions end on January 22nd.
Additional Resources: Emotional Preparation Tips from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints