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Project to strengthen psychological services of hospitals and resilience of healthcare workers implemented in three oblasts

16 November 2023

The war has affected everyone in our country. Studies show that more than 70% of Ukrainians experience one or another symptom that indicates a deterioration in mental health. Although only a small percentage of our citizens are now ready to seek help from specialists, the number of visits to medical professionals due to deterioration of their psycho-emotional state has increased significantly. Doctors themselves often need support as well: in addition to the impact of the war and increased workload, they also face the problem of professional burnout. In addition, military realities have created a need for specialized knowledge in mental health issues.

To strengthen the psychological services of hospitals and support healthcare workers themselves, the project “Strengthening the Capacity of Healthcare Facilities and Building Resilience of Healthcare Workers” was launched.

The main goal of the project is to improve psychological services in hospitals and train specialists to provide support to both patients and doctors.

The project began in three frontline oblasts — Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv. The program lasted three months, from September to October. During this time, 15 psychologists from 9 regional hospitals mastered modern skills in extreme psychology and resilience building, both personal and collective.

32 hours of training and 36 hours of supervision meetings were held. 3304 individual consultations were provided, including 900 for medical professionals. 2658 people took part in group activities, including 1400 medical professionals.

“Five to seven years ago, there was no question of anything like this. Psychological services existed in medical institutions, but it was an open question whether they were of high quality, modern, and effective. And recently, we have seen tremendous progress thanks to such projects. Therefore, the only wish is that such projects become commonplace in medical practice, that psychological services work in every Ukrainian hospital for the benefit of all,” said Andrii Havryliuk, Head of the Medical Services Development Division of the Medical Services Department of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

The pilot project was implemented as part of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program “How Are You?” by the Coordination Center of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the NGO “Bezbariernist” in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the health departments of Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv oblasts.

In addition to training, the project conducted a study of the needs and capacities of medical institutions in the field of mental health and psychosocial support. The findings are available here. The project also resulted in a list of recommendations for improving the work of psychological services in medical institutions. This roadmap is also available here.

The project demonstrated the main thing: how psychologists in medical institutions should work. Now it is time to scale this experience to other hospitals in the country.