Prolonged Stress Response in War

Our hearts are with the children and families in Ukraine who are experiencing the trauma and upheaval of war.

The bombardment of Kyiv has plunged 3.4 million individuals – nearly 510,000 of them children – into a state of terror. Exposure to violence and uncertainty strips away the basic needs all humans require for overall well-being: safety, connection and the ability to remain emotionally stable. Exposure to missile launches, damage to homes and schools, lack of access to food, safe water and medical supplies – all these things cause a significant stress response because people fear not just for their safety, but also for their survival.

When stress responses are prolonged and intense, the impact on emotions, behavior and cognitive functions is devastating. Emotional safety is damaged as children and families risk losing loved ones to violence and separation as they flee for their safety. Some who have fled remain worried for the safety of their friends and family who remain in Ukraine.

Not knowing when the fighting will end puts tens of thousands of families at risk for continued exposure to violence and potential displacement, which will lead to both short- and long-term needs as they struggle to navigate the hurt, worry and fear they experience not only now, but also in the months and years to come.

Starr Commonwealth offers our thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine and to their friends and relatives around the world.



By Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, oversees all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma-informed, resilience-focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including Starr’s SITCAP© model programs.

About Starr Commonwealth

Starr Commonwealth is dedicated to the mission to lead with courage to create positive experiences so that all children, families, and communities flourish. We specialize in residential, community-based, educational, and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults, and families in communities around the world. To schedule a training or consultation, please contact or call 800-837-5591.