Worrying about war in Ukraine: Anxiety and wellbeing advice for you and your family

The conflict in the Ukraine is heightening concern and anxiety for many - especially for children and young people seeing disturbing scenes on the news and social media.

Worrying about war in Ukraine: Anxiety and wellbeing advice for you and your family

For some the war may feel to be something happening far away that has no impact on them. For others there may be direct personal and psychological effects.

The advice from Oxford Health is to take some simple steps to help alleviate some of the impacts and to reach out to our free NHS talking therapies services if you need support with your anxiety.

Dr Bill Tiplady, Oxford Health’s Associate Director of Psychological Services, said: “Current events and the coverage may well trigger a range of worries.

“It is normal to feel worried about the war and evolving political situation. And it is also normal to reflect upon and feel our own experiences of loss, trauma, and stress over the past two years. We all need help sometimes – if you need support please reach out.

“This situation – like the pandemic – is one in which we are powerless to influence events directly. So it is really important to focus on what you can control – this might mean taking a break and doing some gentle exercise, taking time to sit down and focus on enjoying a meal, or spending time away from the news doing something which helps you to unwind. As time goes on there may be more ways you can help practically too – perhaps through charity and aid.”

Bill’s tips for managing stress and anxiety about the war in Ukraine include:

  • Practice self-care – make sure you look after the basics such as sleep and eating properly.
  • Limit and manage your exposure to news – take time to make sure you are informed, but don’t keep a constant watch on the headlines. Limit social media use. Do the same for family members if you think they may be struggling.
  • Speak to someone – friends, family, work colleagues or professionals if you need it
  • Take action – you can join charity and humanitarian efforts to support the people of Ukraine


Supporting children and young people

Many young people will be experiencing war for the first time and their access to graphic and almost constant coverage may be unrestricted for a variety of reasons.

This may lead to questioning and distress in the young people themselves and may lead adults, whether in parent or carer roles or in a professional capacity, to wonder how best to address the issue.

Dr Emma Fergusson, Oxford Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health consultant, said: “The current situation can be difficult for many people, particularly following two years of the pandemic, but there are things you can do to help young people you think may be affected.

“Keep an open dialogue with the young person and try to talk to them in a way that makes sense to them at their age and stage. Keep it open and honest and do it calmly. Just being there to talk about concerns can help greatly.”

“There are some really good online resources and I would strongly recommend using those as a starting point. The guidance from the British Psychological Society in particular gives an excellent step by step guide.”


Help and support resources

Worrying about war – this leaflet is designed to help parents and carers to provide support to younger people and children

Supporting children to manage anxiety – clear and helpful advice from the British Psychological Society

How to talk to your teenager about the invasion of Ukraine – a BBC guide

Talking Space Plus – offers a range of free talking therapies people across Oxfordshire. It is part of the NHS and offers services to patients registered with an Oxfordshire GP.

Healthy Minds Bucks – offers a range of free talking therapies people across Buckinghamshire. It is part of the NHS and offers services to patients registered with a Bucks GP.

Advice from the Red Cross on coping in crisis


The Peace Foundation

Bereavement support – local resources collated by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Combat Stress – mental health support for veterans

Help for Heroes – support for veterans and families

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Published: 16 March 2022