Empowering SESU psychologists on the frontline of emergencies

November 3, 2023
Photo: Danylo Pavlov / UNDP Ukraine

Kyiv, 3 November 2023 – In the aftermath of traumatic events, individuals often find themselves in a high-risk group for mental health challenges. Providing timely and effective psychological assistance to these populations is one of the priorities ofthe State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU). In response to these challenges, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine with funding from Japan, recently conducted a series of three-day training sessions for psychologists within the SESU. The focus of these trainings was to equip professionals with the skills and knowledge required to effectively work with people who have been deeply affected by war-related trauma.

Over 50 psychologists within the SESU have acquired the practical skills necessary to respond to the unique challenges facing the population in Ukraine, with a primary focus on psychological well-being and support. Participants in these training sessions have familiarized themselves with the intricacies of assisting individuals displaying signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), offering psychological support to veterans, working with various segments of the population affected by the war, and understanding the impact of psychologically traumatic situations on civilians who endured occupation, people who survived captivity, torture, injuries, or amputations, and those affected by blast waves.

Olena Ursu, Team Leader of the UNDP Democratic Governance Portfolio, emphasized recognizing and highlighting the support provided to these front-line specialists, who play a critical role in emergencies. 

"The role of psychologists in crises is undoubtedly critical, as they are the first to meet people affected by war. Psychologists of the State Emergency Service are the first to meet people from evacuation trains from other regions or on the sites of shelling or missile attacks, often encountering individuals in a state of shock, anxiety, and deep trauma. By imparting professional knowledge, we aim to empower these psychologists, enabling them to continue their vital work, providing essential assistance to those in the most vulnerable moments of their lives," she noted.

Given that State Emergency Service employees work in high-stress and risk-prone environments, the training also delved into topics related to providing emotional support for psychologists themselves and extending support to the families of injured State Emergency Service personnel.

Anatolii Sychevskyi, Head of the Psychological Service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, pointed out that since the commencement of active hostilities, psychologists from the State Emergency Service have been engaged in over 600 instances of delivering emergency psychological assistance to victims across Ukraine.

"Nonetheless, every case is unique and demands substantial theoretical and practical expertise to guarantee the efficient psychological support of the population. Therefore, we extend our gratitude to our steadfast partners, UNDP and the Government of Japan, for allowing us to enhance our professional capabilities in offering psychological assistance during times of war," he emphasized.


The training was organised within the project Promotion of human security in Ukraine through responding to the multidimensional crisis caused by the war” funded by the Government of Japan.

This activity complies with the International Mine Action Standard (IMAS 13.10), which stipulates that comprehensive assistance to people injured by mines should include immediate and continuous medical care, rehabilitation, psychological and psychosocial support, and socio-economic inclusion.

Media enquiries:

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

Empowering SESU psychologists on the frontline of emergencies