Supporting the health and well-being of refugees from Ukraine

Military operations in Ukraine are causing human suffering, refugee flows, and insecurity. They also have an impact on health and well-being.  

We have compiled on our website resources for health and well-being that can assist professionals in serving people who have arrived in Finland. The website content can also be of use when dealing with people who have arrived earlier from the current conflict zones and who are deeply disturbed by the present war.

Information in Ukrainian and Russian

On this page:

Resources related to asylum seekers

Our website contains information about the health and well-being of asylum seekers and the health services available to them. These resources can also be applied in some areas to persons enjoying temporary protection.

Model for asylum seeker’s initial health examination, supporting resources and forms

On our website, we have a standardised operating model for identifying the health, well-being and service needs of asylum seekers. The website contains a handbook for preliminary health examinations, the forms required for the health examination, and videos. 
Initial health examination for asylum seekers (in Finnish)

Resources that support mental health

Not all the resources on this page are intended for use in an acute crisis, so it is important for the professional to verify that the material is suitable for the situation at hand.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (Duodecim)

Psychological first aid

A person who has experienced a war or disaster needs support. The appropriate form of support for the initial phase of the crisis is called ‘psychological first aid’, a method developed in disaster areas to meet the needs of those affected. Psychological first aid is not actual medical treatment, but rather a means of understanding, listening to and supporting a person affected by a disaster.

This first aid can be provided by anyone, such as volunteers working with NGOs. Social and health care professionals also benefit from applying the principles of psychological first aid when working with people fleeing from war.

Questionnaire for early identification of traumatic experiences among asylum seekers (PROTECT questionnaire)

The PROTECT questionnaire is used in the initial health examination of asylum seekers to identify mental health symptoms associated with traumatic experiences. It can also be used, for example, for the initial health examination of quota refugees and other people coming from conflict areas as part of an examination of mental health symptoms. The survey can be used to identify at an early stage people who have suffered from traumatic experiences and to refer them for further examination.
Identifying problems linked with psychological trauma (in Finnish)

Refugees and Mental Health

There are many issues associated with being a refugee that place a strain on mental health and well-being. In the case of people fleeing war, events at home and on the run are shocking and stressful and can cause trauma. It is important to support mental well-being in all encounters and services.

Initial mental health interview for refugees

The initial interview combines three perspectives in mapping mental health:

  1. positive mental health
  2. a trauma-informed approach
  3. a culturally-sensitive approach.

The aim of the model is to take the resources and resilience of refugees into account. Mental health professionals can apply the model in connection with integration services. 

Initial mental health interview for refugees (in Finnish) (Innokylä)

Multilingual mental health support resources

The Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS) has compiled mental health support resources for professionals. The resources are available for different types of situations in a range of languages, including English, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Humanitarian Response in Ukraine and Neighbouring Countries (pdf; 4,5 MB; Inter-Agency Standing Committee)

Stabilising forms of support that use the Serene operating model

The objective of the Serene activities developed by the Turku Crisis Centre is to implement, disseminate and further develop stabilising forms of support for refugees and asylum seekers. The purpose of these forms of support is to promote mental health and to reduce the adverse consequences of post-traumatic stress and stress related to the adaptation process.

The materials include useful knowledge and practical guidelines to support well-being as well as relaxation exercises, which the client can also do independently. Information on well-being is available in several languages (Finnish, English, Arabic, Kurdish (Sorani), Persian, Dari, Somali, Congo Swahili, Russian, and Ukrainian). 

Information on torture

Our website on violence contains information on the effects of torture on the victim, the symptoms of torture, and how to help the victim.

The wounds left by life as a refugee podcast

Experts from the Centre for Psychotraumatology at the Helsinki Deaconess Foundation talk about traumas caused by war and life as a refugee and rehabilitation for these in Finland. The themes of these episodes include the rehabilitation of children and young people who have been tortured, the rehabilitation of war-traumatised persons and the rehabilitation of tortured persons.

The wounds left by life as a refugee podcast (in Finnish) (Spotify)

Video series about mental health

The ‘Mental Health for Immigrants’ video series contains information, tips and stories on mental health, well-being and adaptation to life in Finland. In the videos, professionals and peers with refugee backgrounds share their knowledge and experiences. The videos have been subtitled and dubbed in Ukrainian, Arabic, Dari, English, Congo Swahili and Russian. 
Mental health for immigrants – video series for refugees

Mental health materials for professionals and researchers 

The International Trauma Consortium has published research and assessment materials on mental health, psychosocial support materials and research links in English, Ukrainian and Russian.
Mental Health Resources for Clinicians and Researchers (ITC)

Mental well-being in times of crisis

THL has compiled resources on its website that can help promote crisis resilience and ways of coping with worry and uncertainty.
Mental well-being in times of crisis (Mental health website)

Finnish Red Cross – instructions for handling shocking events

This page of the Finnish Red Cross (SPR) contains information on dealing with shocking events in work with special groups such as children and immigrants from conflict areas.

Multilingual guide to stress management

An illustrated guide to managing stress in challenging situations, created by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This guide and exercises are meant for anyone who feels stressed, regardless of the cause of stress. The guide can be used on its own or together with the vocal exercises.

The guide and related vocal exercises are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, French, German, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress (WHO)

Coping with worry and uncertainty about the threat of war

The self-help section of contains guidance on how to cope and take care of one’s own well-being during a crisis. It contains information on topics such as data processing, helping others, and talking about war and the threat of war with children. The page has also been translated into Ukrainian.

Self Help Plus programme

The Self-Help Plus group model developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been shown to prevent mental health problems in people with refugee backgrounds. The group model is a guided self-help method that teaches stress management skills through a guide, recordings and discussion.

Support and conversational therapy in various languages

MIELI Mental Health Finland provides support and discussion assistance in crises and difficult life situations. Timely low-threshold discussion assistance in a crisis situation helps to prevent mental health problems. Help is available in various languages, including Ukrainian and Russian.

MIELI ry in Finnish
MIELI ry in Ukrainian 
MIELI ry in Russian

Resources for children, young people and families

Collected data and materials on the mental health of traumatised children and young people

The database contains material related to the mental health issues of traumatised children and young people with a refugee and asylum-seeker background. The database also contains assessment methods suitable for multicultural trauma work and information on the effects that a torture victims' trauma have on their learning.
Centre for Psychotraumatology Database (Finnish and other languages)

Security, hope and agency – information for professionals in early childhood education and care on the traumas of refugees

Publication of the Helsinki Deaconess Fuundation's (HDL) Centre for Psychotraumatology intended for professionals in early childhood education and care
Read the brochure

A guide for parents – how to process crisis situations together with children

Experts from the Centre for Psychotraumatology at the Helsinki Deaconess Foundation (HDL) have written a guide on how parents can support their children in different crisis situations. This guide can also be used with young people. It is currently only available in Finnish, but will soon also be available in other languages.
A guide for parents – how to process crisis situations together with children (HDL)

Multilingual guide, app and audio guide for parents with refugee backgrounds

Produced by the Danish Red Cross, this guide for parents with refugee backgrounds includes four general themes on how children experience and respond to war and fleeing war, advice for parents on how to support their children, and instructions for parents’ own self-care. The set of products includes a guidebook, a mobile application, and an audio guide for parents who are illiterate. There is also an online course for professionals.

The guide is available in Danish, Norwegian, English, German, Arabic, Russian, Kurdish-Sorani, Somali, Tigrinya, Farsi and Ukrainian. Language options for the audio guide: Arabic, Somali, Tigrinya, Kurdish-Sorani, Farsi, Russian, and Danish.

Guide for refugee parents (webpage in Danish, Røde Kors)

The Kip Crew Manages Their Worries – exercise booklet for children

‘The Kip Crew Manages Their Worries’ exercise booklet provides practical tips for children aged 4–9 to help them deal with their worries, fears and other emotions in a way that is suitable for their age and level of development.

The booklet is suitable for use at home, in early childhood education and care, and in schools. It has been translated into Finnish, Ukrainian, Russian and several other languages.

The exercise booklet was developed by Protect Children ry together with Fun Academy.

The Kip Crew Manages Their Worries – Activity Booklet (9 languages, Protect Children ry)

Support for working with children who have experienced war or disaster

The resources developed by the Children and War Foundation include five handbooks that support work with children who have experienced war or disaster. For more information on upcoming trainings on using the guides and assistance models, please contact [email protected].
Children and War Foundation

Information, techniques and methods for handling and managing a child’s anxiety in exceptional situations

The website contains information about child anxiety and about means and methods for handling and managing their anxiety in exceptional situations. The site is suitable for parents of children of all ages and for adults working with children. The site, which is open to everyone and free of charge, has been translated into Swedish, English and Ukrainian. The website has been set up by the University of Turku’s Voimaperheet (Powerful Families) research group.
‘Together we’ll get through this’ website (Voimaperheet)

Home aftercare for young people who have arrived in Finland unaccompanied

The brochure contains information on what support and services can be obtained at the age of 18-24, if a minor has arrived in Finland unaccompanied by an adult. Support ends at the age of 25.

Home aftercare for unaccompanied young people entering the country (in Finnish) (Julkari) 

Information and THL resources for families with kids

Our material bank provides information in Ukrainian, among other things, on maternity and child health clinic services, pupil and student health care, child welfare services and shelters in Finland.

Resources in Ukrainian and in Finnish (THL Material Bank)

Support during pregnancy and a child’s infancy for families who have moved to Finland

Newly arrived parents expecting a baby need information on pregnancy, childbirth and the practices of the Finnish health care system. Families with babies arriving from war-torn regions or areas embroiled in conflict are particularly vulnerable. The new guide "Pregnancy, childbirth and infancy in Finland" by the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters provides basic information on pregnancy and infancy as well as practical tips for everyday life in Finland. The guide is now available in Finnish and Ukrainian.
Pregnancy, childbirth and infancy in Finland guide (Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters)

Data  to support children who have fled war

UNICEF has produced support material for children and their guardians on children’s rights in Finland and on the services available in Finland. In addition, the website contains a model for teachers to organise a parental evening for the parents of the preparatory class. The materials are intended to support children and families from anywhere. Support materials are available in Finnish and Ukrainian. 
Rights of children fleeing war (in Finnish) (UNICEF) 

Infectious disease prevention and vaccinations

Prevention of infectious diseases and vaccinations of persons from Ukraine

This recommendation for healthcare professionals includes information and guidelines on infection control and vaccination.
Prevention of infectious diseases and vaccinations of persons coming from Ukraine (‘Infectious diseases and vaccinations’ website) (in Finnish)

A brochure in Ukrainian provides information about adults' and children's vaccination programmes in Finland. 
THL Material Bank


The infectious diseases and vaccinations website contains all of THL’s coronavirus-related resources.

Support for professional work and coping at work

Support for mental health work with people with refugee backgrounds

The PALOMA Centre of Expertise promotes the mental health of people with refugee backgrounds and immigrants from other similar backgrounds. 

Information on mental health tools and actors has been compiled on the PALOMA Centre of Expertise website. 

Webpage for PALOMA Centre of Expertise

Supporting refugees’ mental health in Finland

The PALOMA handbook is an information package that provides comprehensive information and recommendations on supporting the mental health of people with a refugee background in different sectors and at different levels of activity.
Supporting refugees’ mental health in Finland: PALOMA handbook (Julkari)

Video training on working with clients with refugee backgrounds

The PALOMA training, produced by PALOMA, is a free, web-based, extensive training package that provides good basic information for working with clients with refugee backgrounds and supporting their well-being. 
PALOMA training

Culturally sensitive working approach

A culturally sensitive working approach encompasses interpersonal skills that are based on the principle of respecting the person regardless of their culture or background. In addition, it means respectful interaction between the professional and the client as well as a respectful and personalised approach to engaging with the client.

Various methods have been developed to support a culturally sensitive working approach that supports the professional’s work. For example, cultural interviews and culturally sensitive parenting interviews help towards engaging with clients in a personalised manner and taking cultural diversity into account. Detailed descriptions of the methods can be found by following the links below.

Interpreter-mediated work

Working with the assistance of an interpreter ensures that both clients and professionals are understood during appointments in different public services. In order to deal with matters smoothly and without hindrance, we recommend working with the assistance of an interpreter whenever the client and the professional do not share a common language.
Finding a common language with the help of an interpreter – also in mental health work (in Finnish) (Julkari)
Information on interpreter-mediated work
PALOMA training: Interpreter-mediated work

Compassion fatigue

Professionals who work with refugees often work with clients who have experienced many shocking events, who live in challenging situations and who require different kinds of services. 
The terms compassion stress and fatigue as well as secondary traumatic stress describe a phenomenon in which the difficult and traumatic experiences of a client are transferred to an employee or working community and cause them mental strain.

"Help for Helpers" webinars

In April 2022, the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) organised three Help for Helpers seminars to provide tools for volunteers and frontline helpers working with people fleeing their country due to war. 

The three webinars focused on the following themes:

  1. Introduction and practical tips on psychological first aid for helpers
  2. Practical tips for supporting children
  3. Traumatisation and resilience in Helpers (How to take care of oneself)

"Help for Helpers" webinars in English (EPA)