Background: The war in Ukraine has posed significant challenges to the healthcare system. This paper draws upon expert consultations, held between December 2022 and February 2023, focused on HIV/AIDS, addiction, and mental health service delivery during the first year of this war, and following the Global Mental Health Humanitarian Coalition panel discussion in May 2022. Objectives: This commentary presents the experiences of frontline healthcare workers in Ukraine, challenges, and local adaptations to meet the increased mental health needs of healthcare providers. We aimed to document the adaptations made in the addiction healthcare system and to acknowledge the changes in vulnerabilities and lessons learned. Results: Burnout among healthcare providers delivering addiction, HIV/AIDS and mental health services became more visible after the second half of 2022. Challenges included increased workload, contextual threats, lack of job relocation strategies, and money-follow-the-patient policies. Recommendations: The lessons from the first year of war in Ukraine hold significant generalizability to other contexts. These include enabling bottom-up approaches to tailoring services and allowing healthcare providers to respond to the dynamics of war in an effective and active manner. Other recommendations include departmental-specific resources and strategies, particularly as vulnerable groups and challenges are unstable in humanitarian contexts. Conclusions: Globally and in Ukraine, healthcare workers need more than applause. Along with monetary incentives, other strategies to prevent burnout, ensure sustainable capacity building, job relocation opportunities, and bespoke adaptations are imperative to protect healthcare providers' wellbeing and overall public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1450
Number of pages4
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number11
Early online date15 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jun 2023


  • Humans
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Mental Health Services
  • Health Personnel/psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Ukraine


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