The European Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is very concerned about the escalating situation in Russia and Ukraine. Both countries are members of our European organization of specialist in child mental health, and we offer our sincere support to them at this time.
We know that war and military conflicts hit children first. Families in the conflict zone already are preoccupied with the on-going crisis and fear for the lives of their beloved ones. Families in European countries further away are also concerned and children have expressed signs of anxiety. This adds more stress to the developmental challenges that everybody has experienced during the Covid-19 crisis.
There is a huge body of literature in trauma research, which shows the devastating consequences of war and armed conflicts on children and adolescents. For a start, it has an excruciating effect on pregnant mothers and babies. It increases premature birth and infant mortality. Older children show increased levels of anxiety and depression and about 30-40 percent develop PTSD. All this leading to poorer mental and physical health continuing into adulthood.
Recent research in neurobiology and neurosciences teaches us that the debt war trauma has on mental health carries over on to at least 3 generations.
In its report, “On my mind: the state of the world’s children 2021, promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health” UNICEF requested leadership and political action for the best of our children. The elected leaders in child and adolescent mental health in Europe at the ESCAP Board and the Policy Division appeal to the governments involved to do anything to avoid the military conflict to escalate further. We absolutely need to do everything possible to allow the children in Europe to grow up without threats and consequences of armed conflicts.
We reiterate that we will do what we can to support our colleagues in these countries.
It’s time once again to come together and do our absolute best to protect our children.
Written on behalf of the ESCAP president, Dimitris Anagnostopoulos, ESCAP policy division lead, Joerg Fegert, the ESCAP board; Anne-Marie Raaberg Christensen, Stephan Eliez, Manon Hillegers, Andreas Karwautz, Eniko Kiss, Jean-Philippe Raynaud, Johannes Hebebrand, Konstantinos Kotsis, Milica Pejovic-Milovancevic, Maeve Doyle, and ESCAP policy division members.
Published: 23 February 2022
Image courtesy of Lucas Metz on Unsplash