One of the immediate consequences of the war is the psychological problems of participants of the war and their relatives, as well as the general public. According to the World Health Organization, prevalence of mental disorders among conflict-affected populations is 22.1%.
The studies conducted in Armenia in the context of 44-day war also show that the number os persons in need of psychological support has grown, suicide and suicide attempts were recorded in connection with unresolved psychological problems.
According to a study published in September 2021, 93% of 1000 young persons aged 16-24 mentioned that they themselves or one from their acquaintances was involved in military operations in Artsakh in 2020. Anxiety, panic and irritability of 69.1% of respondents is related to military operations.
Armenia has undertaken mental health obligations under international documents, and the domestic legislation of the Republic of Armenia also has mental health maintenance guarantees.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor has studied implementation and effectiveness of the Government’s Action towards withstanding psychological problems caused by the war.
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Our study shows that the volume of the implemented measures is not enough and the results are far from the aims pursued by the Action.
The State’s attitude towards war participants and their relatives is worrisome: the state brings forth various bureaucratic problems and thus does not respect their dignity, which inevitably traumatizes them psychologically.
One of the reasons why ensuring psychological support is difficult in Armenia is that there is no culture of applying for psychological support and there is a stereotypical attitude in this regard. Thus, it is essential to have ongoing action towards overcoming those stereotypes, and find those in need for support to ensure availability of services for them.
Based on the vital importance of psychological rehabilitation for building a normal life, psychological support should be available, in appropriate volumes and timeframe, to those needing it. Thus, it is necessary to
ensure publicity of assessments and substantiations that served as the basis for the decision, in particular, how many persons from which provinces and what ages are target of the Action;
guarantee assessment of the conducted work, selected toolkit, their effectiveness, as well as accountability and transparency of the Action results by presenting the public with comprehensive data regarding the need and persons who were provided with support;
ensure continuity of the Action by using the potential of individuals and public initiatives working with war participants and their relatives and adopting a systemic and complex approach;
ensure that all individuals in need of psychological support are identified and granted access to those services;
ensure preparation and training of specialists also by using the potential of international experts;
ensure awareness of all competent bodies in mental health sphere, including psychiatric institutions, about the Action, and develop a mechanism of cooperation;
ensure implementation of target and complex measures of psychological rehabilitation of the public, including preparation and dissemination of a set of videos about mental health rehabilitation;
ensure availability and accessibility of social, health and other services by keeping war participants away from bureaucratic hassle;