War affects us all – people, communities, countries and all world. It generates fear, revolt, anxiety, sense of impotence, exclusion and iniquities. War destroys communities and families, disrupts the development of the social and economic fabric of countries. It causes poverty, forced migration, violence and insecurity, the loss of freedom and dignity.
War has a psychological impact, primarily on those who are direct victims of the conflict, but it´s reach is broader and more significant for people in situations of greater vulnerability. Scientific evidence shows a decrease in well-being and an increase in psychological distress and in related psychological health problems and mental disorders (such has anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD), in short, medium and long term.
For all these reasons, and following the generalized concern of the Portuguese population, the Portuguese Psychologists Association is, from the first moments of this war, in contact with the leaders of the National Psychological Association of Ukraine. Since the first contact, we have been asked, in Portugal and in Europe, to continue to condemn this war, not forgetting what the Ukrainians are experiencing and that we support the heavily affected populations.
In the last days, several psychologists have expressed, to our association and to society, their will contribute, to help. We welcome this availability, as profession based on a humanistic vision, a defense of human rights and the possibility of self-determination.
Also, considering the role that we believe to fulfil as professional and public association, since last Saturday we have been in contact with the Portuguese government, most concretely with the Health Ministry and the Prime Minister´s office. We advocate for the mobilization and support for the development and organization of psychological support responses that we consider essential to the moment we are living. For this purpose, we requested the reinforcement of the communication and the strengthened of the already existing means, particularly the Psychological Counseling Service on the SNS24 (national health telephone line). We appeal and are available to create a specific response to the needs of the population of the most affected regions, whether they live in Portugal or have family members and/or friends in the conflict zone, as well as for all Portuguese living in Ukraine, and those who are returning to Portugal.
The Portuguese Psychologists Association has showed concerned with the interventions made available to the refugees, having provided its support to reinforce the host institutions/entities responsible for integration and inclusion of refugees. Finally, the Portuguese Psychologists Association has joined in initiatives with the media, having establish a partnership with CNN Portugal for the publication of articles about the contributions of Psychology to the understanding of war and the construction of peace.
At an international level, the Portuguese Psychologists Association participated in a joint public position with the Global Psychological Alliance (where 86 countries are represented) to support the Ukrainian psychologists as well the Ukrainian population. Also following the press release of the Board of the European Federation of Psychologist´s Associations (EFPA), which the Portuguese Psychologists Association does not subscribe to, the Portuguese Psychologists Association requested an urgent meeting with all presidents of the Psychology associations in Europe, to discuss the situation we are living and to promote a set of measures and actions to be developed by EFPA.
As soon as possible the Portuguese Psychologists Association will make available a set of resources to promote literacy on Psychological Health and well-being, intended for the population (the first is already available). We are also reinforcing the offer of continuous professional training to psychologists, creating recommendations for professional practice and providing a set of resources and opportunities for the discussion and joint work to support the response to this crisis.
As in other moments of crisis, our country knows that it has psychologists committed and motivated to contribute to create answers to the problems and challenges of all people. The psychologist know that they can count with the Portuguese Psychologists Association to support this response and to be a voice in the defense, in Portugal and abroad, for the use of psychological science in the core societal challenges, whether they´ll be poverty and exclusion, public health crisis or peace.