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Posted on Oct 19 2022 by Fiona Bailey

Schools in the UK which have welcomed children from Ukraine are to receive specialist mental health training at a forthcoming conference.

The LightBulb Mental Health Conference, which is being hosted by the St Andrew’s Healthcare Education team is taking place virtually on Monday, October 31 between 10am and 2pm.

Entitled ‘Ukraine: Overcoming the Trauma and Getting Back to Learning’, attendees will be advised on the best way to help and support the children who are being forced to live in a different country having escaped from the war in Ukraine.

Dr Alexy Titievsky, who is a Consultant Psychiatrist at St Andrew's Healthcare, is a keynote speaker. He has family in Ukraine and has been instrumental in helping to set up field hospitals in the war-torn country.

He said: “Due to recent events, the war in Ukraine has slipped off the news agenda, but it is still very much continuing. Many children and young people were able to escape the country before things got really bad, but they may still have been exposed to very frightening scenes.

“In addition, they would have been forced to say goodbye to the men in their family who had to stay behind to fight for their country. Leaving fathers, grandfathers and older brothers behind, not knowing if they will ever see them again, would have been deeply traumatic.

“Then they come to the UK, and are having to get used to new surroundings, learn a new language, make new friends and start a new schools. Its lots of change in a very short space of time and it’s important those who work closely with the child understands this and knows the best way they can support them.”

Dr Leanne Johnson who is Head of Trauma Informed Practice Outcomes First Group and Dr Siobhan Currie, Chair of the Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Section at the British Psychological Society, will join LightBulb teachers to form the conference line up.

LightBulb Founder Cheryl Smith, who is Headteacher at the St Andrew’s College said: “Having spoken to colleagues in schools and charitable organisations we felt there was a need to help offer support to schools dealing with deeply traumatised children.  

“Teacher training does not prepare you for the complex needs of young people who have to deal with the trauma caused from being directly involved in such a terrible conflict. It’s vital that those working with these young people properly understand the issues they will be battling with everyday, such as overcoming language barriers and settling into an unfamiliar education setting.  

“The LightBulb team strongly believe prevention is better than cure, and we thought that holding a conference focusing on these children and the support they require could really help to make a meaningful difference to their lives.”

Attending the conference is free, although small financial donations are welcome and will be given to the Innovative Revival of Ukraine charity.

For more information or to sign up, click here.