"After Russian armed forces moved on Kyiv in February 2022, Ivan (not his real
name) decided that, despite the risks, he would fight to defend his city and
He joined one of the volunteer groups working alongside Ukraine’s Territorial
Defense Forces, trading gunfire with Russian forces using weapons supplied and
distributed by the Ukrainian government. An ordinary civilian turned unlikely
soldier, he never thought he would find himself on the front lines of what
would become known as the Battle for Kyiv.
After an offensive lasting almost five weeks, Russian troops withdrew in the
face of Ukrainian defiance. But for Ivan, a more personal battle was just
beginning. His history of panic attacks and anxiety, which predated the war,
came surging back. He began to experience trouble breathing if he ventured too
far from his home near the Dnipro River, which passes through three countries
and had become a key front line in the war against Russia.
That’s when he sought out TeleHelp Ukraine, a virtual health service co-founded
by Stanford University medical student Solomiia Savchuk in April 2022. Over the
course of around 12 virtual mental health support sessions, in which Ukrainian
native Savchuk acted as an interpreter, Ivan was able to regain the ability to
drive without suffering a panic attack. He learned breath and visualization
exercises, and regularly drew graphs to numerically express how he was feeling
on a particular day. As an avid cyclist, he felt most comfortable on a bike,
and so would take cycling trips that allowed him to venture slightly further
from the city and river each time, until he felt confident enough to get back
behind the wheel of his car and drive longer distances.
Eventually, Ivan was able to drive far enough to visit his family, in time to
meet his newborn grandson."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics