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State institutions and the public sector combine their efforts and experience to develop a network of psychological assistance in Ukraine

1 July 2022

On 30th June the constituent meeting of the working group consisting of the Interdepartmental Coordination Council on Mental Health Protection and Psychological Assistance to persons affected by the armed aggression of the russian federation against Ukraine was held. This meeting witnessed the unification of departments, projects and partners for the development of a network of psychological assistance in Ukraine.

"We are all in a state of superpowerful stress, emotional stress, experiencing losses and threats of physical injuries," said Iryna Mykychak, Deputy Minister of health of Ukraine. "All this can have an extremely negative impact on health during the war and after the victory. And this can be either an obvious impact, or a gradual deterioration in mental and physical health. That is why we combine the skills, efforts and experience of state institutions and the public sector to develop a network of psychological assistance in Ukraine."

In order to quickly respond and overcome the devastating consequences of the war, including in the direction of strengthening mental health, first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska initiated the creation of the "National program of mental health and psychosocial support". So that Ukrainians who suffered as a result of the aggressor's actions have full and effective access to psychological assistance. Since the psychological well-being of the population is closely linked to the future of the country and its well-being in various spheres of public life.

According to Alisa Ladyk-Bryzgalova, a mental health specialist at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Ukraine, our country's response to the challenges of war from the very first days is unique.

"Based on how Ukraine responds to the challenges of war and prioritizes the topic of mental health, the well-being of the population and every Ukrainian from the very beginning, we see Ukraine as an example for other countries and will provide not only assistance to strengthen mental health protection, but also a platform for Ukraine to share its experience with other countries. And they can also learn and minimize mistakes in the future. This may add a little responsibility, but I hope it is also a great opportunity for Ukraine to share its experience with other countries," the WHO representative in Ukraine said in particular.

Among other things, a draft framework document developed on the initiative of the first lady of Ukraine in coordination with the Ministry of Health and with the support of WHO was presented during the meeting. It sets national priorities for work and takes into account the best standards and practices of psychological assistance and psychosocial support in emergency situations. It delineates the measures that need to be implemented for each of the sectors in the first 6 months and in the next two years. Such a document will allow all participants and partners of the process, current and future, to understand the priorities of work and synchronize efforts to achieve a common goal with the most efficient use of resources. 

In addition, the participants of the meeting were presented with a self-study guide for those who work on the first contact line "Basic psychosocial skills" for communicating with people who have had experience of psychological trauma. 

It should be recalled that a working group has been established as an advisory body of the Ministry of Health, whose main tasks are the formation of proposals and development of draft regulatory legal acts on improving mental health protection and psychosocial support for the population of Ukraine.