This Wednesday, the school psychologist hotline offering support in Estonian and Russian began offering Ukrainian-language support as well. According to the Estonian Association of School Psychologists (EKPÜ), which operates the hotline, they have been seeing an increased number of calls in recent times, including about anxiety related to the war.
"There are quite a lot of calls involving anxiety over the war, and other mental health issues have likewise been somewhat exacerbated by the current war crisis," said EKPÜ chairperson Karmen Maikalu.
As of Thursday, 622 refugee children are enrolled in various schools across Estonia. Just over half, or 332 children, have started attending Estonian-language school, a quarter, or 167 children, are in language immersion classes, 117 children have been placed in Russian-language schools, and six children have been enrolled in English-language school.
In an extraordinary video conference with EU education ministers, Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science Shkarlet Serhiy asked his colleagues to seek opportunities to support youth and children's mental health.
"The expansion of the hotline to offer Ukrainian-language support is essential," Maikalu said regarding the addition of Ukrainian-language counseling services on Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m.
"Ukrainian-speaking school psychologists are prepared to counsel school-age children and youth as well as adults — parents and educators," she continued. "A free and anonymous phone call is an initial and easily accessible point of contact for psychological help, but when necessary, follow-up counseling may be offered as well."
While educational institutions are working hard to find more counselors and psychologists to work in schools, there currently aren't enough of them — an issue Estonia faced even prior to the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine starting late last month. By law, there should be a psychologist on staff in every school; currently, only half of schools have one.
Hotlines 1226 and 1227
The Estonian-language hotline at 1226 is available Monday through Friday from 4-8 p.m. The hotline at 1227 is available in Russian from 4-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and in Ukrainian from 4-8 p.m.on Wednesdays.
All calls are anonymous and free of charge.
Click here for a link to the ministry's announcement about the hotline in Ukrainian.
Editor: Aili Vahtla