“Better to know about” campaign to raise awareness of mental health challenges in Ukraine

Widespread advocacy effort also addresses stigmas attached to seeking help

November 17, 2022
Illustration: UNDP Ukraine

Ukrainians have been living in constant stress since the beginning of the war, facing anxieties and fears about their own survival as entire cities and villages are destroyed. Many lay awake at night wondering if a missile or drone will hit their building. Every day, Ukrainians must make hard decisions, deal with new challenges and uncertainties, cope with grief, and comfort their loved ones. Many have witnessed hostilities and atrocities, haunted by images of war – things no one should ever see. Being heavily traumatized, they need peace, support, and time to heal.

Psychologists say delaying treatment for psychological trauma can have severe and long-lasting impacts on the emotional and physical well-being of a person, often leading to even more suffering. To address this challenge head on, UNDP and the European Union have launched a new information campaign called “Better to know about” aimed at raising awareness of mental health challenges and mobilizing efforts to support it. Early diagnosis of mental health issues can make it possible to stabilize oneself or another person in a critical situation.

Frederik Coene, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Ukraine, said the issue of public health support is just as urgent as rapid response humanitarian aid. “We are already seeing that long-term strategies of skilled psychological support will be needed to support those affected by the war in Ukraine and to minimize the consequences for mental health,” he said. “We are making every effort to ensure that high-quality psychological care is available for people throughout the country, including vulnerable populations.”

Jaco Cilliers, interim UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, said raising awareness of mental health challenges and treatment is important to improve understanding of the condition and increase access to necessary healing care for those who need it. “Talking openly about mental health can reduce misconceptions about mental health care and the stigmatisation of the topic and encourage those suffering to seek help from professionals or support groups,” he said. “Many people are dealing with anxiety attacks, depression, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder, so we should do whatever we can to help them overcome these challenges.”

The “Better to know about” campaign includes information on psychological first aid, how to help a person experiencing a panic attack, how to support the grieving process and how to cope with anxiety and stress through exercises. UNDP launched the campaign within the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme with the financial support of the European Union. Additionally, as part of the campaign, leaflets and posters on the most relevant non-communicable diseases were distributed to raise awareness of the risks and prevention factors of such conditions and to promote their early detection and the formation of self-help skills.


The United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP) is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Eleven international partners support the Programme: The European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: yuliia.samus@undp.org