UNICEF and Child Helpline International expand services to provide mental health support to children living inside Ukraine and in refugee-hosting countries

Services are now available in Ukrainian and Russian in seven countries across Europe

28 March 2023

GENEVA, 28 March 2023 -- Child Helpline International has partnered with UNICEF to expand the capacity of child helplines in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries to reach Ukrainian refugee children and young people, and provide them with services in Ukrainian and Russian.

The war in Ukraine has resulted in more than 5 million Ukrainians being internally displaced and more than 8 million people – the majority of whom are women and children – fleeing to neighbouring countries. The war has not only caused death and destruction but is also having a devasting impact on the mental well-being of affected children and their families. An estimated 1.5 million children are at risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions.

“Children living through war in Ukraine might be feeling fear and anxiety, while children and families in refugee-hosting countries might feel alone and need information on how to access essential services such as shelter and food, employment opportunities, education and protection services,” said Patrick Krens, Executive Director of Child Helpline International.

UNICEF and Child Helpline International have partnered to expand the reach of national child helplines in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia to offer mental health and psychosocial support in Ukrainian and Russian. This effort is part of the activities under the project “Hearing the Voices of Ukrainian Children and Young People: Child Helplines Responding to the Ukraine Crisis” through which the two organisations ensure quality services for children and young people in need of care and protection, with particular focus on those affected by the war in Ukraine.

“We welcome this expansion of services to address the critical mental health and psychosocial needs of those who have been impacted by the war in Ukraine. Ensuring that children, adolescents and young people are listened to and have someone to turn to is vital, and these national helplines are a key entry point to help children and families access a wider array of protection services,” said Afshan Khan, Director of UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO).

The joint UNICEF-Child Helpline International project also raises awareness of child helpline services so that a greater number of Ukrainian children, their parents or caregivers know that they can reach out to child helplines wherever they find themselves, to get the mental health support and other advice and assistance they need via toll-free numbers and online chat services.

Through the project, the two organizations are training frontline workers on gender-based violence and trafficking in human beings so that they can better address specific needs children and young people might have.

Since the escalation of the war in Ukraine, UNICEF has reached over 3.3 million children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support, over 126,000 children with specialized care through case management and referrals, and over 400,000 women and children with gender-based violence prevention and/or response services inside Ukraine. In refugee-hosting countries, UNICEF and partners have reached more than 1.2 million children and caregivers with access to mental health services. UNICEF and UNHCR have set up 39 Blue Dots along major transit routes to provide integrated services to women and children on the move.

Media contacts

Arista Kusumastuti
Communications Officer
Child Helpline International
Chiara Frisone
Tel: +41 766 908 465

Note to media:

Information about child helpline services in Ukraine and neighbouring countries can be found here: https://childhelplineinternational.org/ukraine-crisis-child-helplines/ 

About UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office

UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential from early childhood through adolescence. And we never give up. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Europe and Central Asia, visit: www.unicef.org/eca 

About Child Helpline International

Child Helpline International is a collective impact organisation with 159 members from 135 countries and territories around the world. It coordinates information, viewpoints, knowledge, and data from its child helpline members, partners and external sources. This exceptional resource is used to support child protection systems globally, regionally and nationally, and to help its members advocate for the rights of children and amplify their voices. For more information, visit: www.childhelplineinternational.org

About Ukraine Crisis Response Project

The Ukraine Crisis Response project is funded by UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office. It focuses on supporting the work of Child Helpline International’s Ukrainian member, La Strada Ukraine, and the child helplines in neighbouring countries that provide help and support to children and young people displaced by the war in Ukraine. For more information, please visit: www.childhelplineinternational.org/ukraine-crisis-response