Children and adolescents are one of the most vulnerable population groups suffered from the war. During adolescence, an individual’s psyche is being transformed and proved to be especially sensitive. This process of transformation becomes complicated and burdened with psychological trauma experienced in the situation of an armed conflict. Impact of everyday stress factors grows as combined with traumatic war events: watching military vehicles, shooting, killing, wounding, loss of family members and home, as well as general social, economic, and psychological problems. Not every psychological trauma results in mental disorder, however, those stresses often cause painful emotions and lead to maladjustment.
The effective programs of psychosocial support to conflict-affected adolescents should take into account their individual characteristics and the specific situational context. For this purpose, we conducted psychodiagnostics study on mental health and emotional well-being of adolescents living near the front line in Eastern Ukraine. Totally, 222 high school students from Donetsk region aged 15 to 17 participated in the survey. The following questionnaires were used: Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Child Psychosocial Distress Screener (CPDS) assessing distress, emotional and behavioural problems of children and adolescents aged 8-18, and Mental Health Assessment Instrument (MHAI) screening mental health symptoms and disorders at conflict-affected populations.
The study findings showed that the majority (94,7%) of the respondents experienced war traumatic events, having at least one symptom of psychological problems; 25,5% were experiencing depression, 34,9% did PTS, 7,8% had anxiety and 7,7% had problems with alcohol use. Women were more likely than males to experience stress and had mental health problems, while men had problems with prosocial behavior. Both genders had difficulties in peer relationships and behavior.
The existing psychological problems were aggravated by hyperactivity, difficulties in behavior and relationships with peer and indicated worsened mental health and emotional well-being of conflict-affected adolescents in the Eastern Ukraine, risk of mental disorders and asocial behavior. These data should be taken into account for effective psychological support for this category of adolescents.
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