Mental health in Ukraine – a bit of background

A few facts about mental health in Ukraine, by way of a quick point-form backgrounder:

– Suicide is a big problem in Ukraine. Figures from 2007 show that Ukraine has one the highest suicide rates in the world, and that the suicide rate has been increasing since independence. The risk of dying from suicide in Ukraine is about twice as high as dying in a car accident. I haven’t come across any more recent statistics on suicide (and the situation in the country now makes it even tougher to do any sort of large-scale public health research, period) but nothing suggests these statistics have changed.

– People who have mental health issues in Ukraine, like depression or anxiety, rarely seek help. There are a lot of complex reasons for this, some of which I touch on here, but the fact that 75% of people with major depression who admitted to suicidal thoughts never talked to a professional about their problems is pretty worrying.

– In the 2012 European Social Survey, respondents in 28 countries, including Ukraine, were asked a series of questions about their self-rated mental health. Ukrainians scored at or near the bottom of almost every measure.* They were the most likely to have felt anxious in the past week (29% compared to 11% on average), most likely to have felt sad in the past week (23% compared to 9% on average) and most likely to have felt lonely in the past week (21% compared to 8% on average). When it came to feeling depressed over the past week, only Hungarians and Albanians were more depressed than Ukrainians.

The papers I’ve linked to above are well worth a read, by the way.

*As a former stats man, I ran this analysis in SPSS using the 2012 data, which you can download for free. For anyone so inclined, I saved my SPSS syntax so if you happen to have SPSS or its open-source alternative, you can run it yourself. 

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