San Francisco company opens mental health center and drone pilot school in Ukraine

Russia’s war against Ukraine has negatively impacted the mental health of people living there, forcing a San Francisco-based company to help.

JustAnswer, an online platform that connects people with experts for professional advice, has funded the JustAnswer National Center for Mental Health in Lviv, which will open next week.

It will be a lifeline for those suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder during the war.

“There are 44 million people in this country who suffer these traumas or bombs falling near them every day, and it’s taking a toll on people’s mental health,” said CEO Andy Kurtzig. “We know this is coming. arrival.”

Construction of the new 5,000-square-foot facility took four months. It will operate in partnership with major hospitals and cities.

The center will provide free care to people who have suffered trauma and other mental illnesses as a result of the war. There are 20 professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists who will be working there full-time.

JustAnswer has been operating in the country for over a decade and employs nearly 300 people.

Many Ukrainian workers said they were stressed, worried or traumatized by the war.

“I’m really scared that this war will change me in a way that I won’t see myself anymore,” employee Nadia Semen said. “Sometimes we don’t realize we need help.”

She is one of 15,000 people the mental health center plans to serve this year alone. Next year, it’s targeting 40,000.

Awareness and treatment of mental trauma is low in Ukraine.

The country is ill-equipped to deal with the large numbers of soldiers and citizens mentally affected by the escalating and protracted conflict.

Recent research shows that an estimated one in five people in conflict-affected areas suffers from a serious mental illness.

“If you have a wound, you might see it and someone will say you need to see a doctor,” Semen said. “But when you’re just acting a little differently, maybe you’re tired … we have a lot of explanations for why we’re okay.”

Since the beginning of the war, JustAnswer has been on a mission to provide aid and assistance to employees and refugees.

RELATED: San Francisco company with hundreds of employees in Ukraine raises $210K donation

Kurtzig and his family used to live in Ukraine, where they delivered vital medical supplies, body armor and food during spring break.

The next big project is the drone pilot school, which is in the planning stages and will eventually target the enemy more.

“The training is to help civilians know where the Russians are and when they’re ready to attack so they can get out,” Kurzig said. “Our goal is safety.”

The company donated 11 sophisticated surveillance drones to mark the tech company’s 11th year in Ukraine.

This is yet another testament to the Bay Area’s role in improving the health and lives of Ukrainians.

“It’s a tricky time and a tricky situation in this war,” Kurziger said. “This is a time when they need our support more than ever.”

Brooks Yaros is an investigative reporter for him and follow him Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU

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