First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Health Viktor Liashko, and Head of NGO Bezbaryernist and Head of the Coordination Center for Mental Health under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Oksana Zbitneva, held a press conference on the eve of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen to be held in Kyiv on September 6.
The Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen is an international association of spouses of the world's top leaders, founded by wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska in 2021 to share experiences and implement joint projects for the well-being of people around the world.
"I am proud that it was Ukraine that initiated this format, because it is growing every year and becoming something bigger and more important," Olena Zelenska said.
The first and second summits took place in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
"We held our first Summit before the full-scale invasion. But 2022 redirected all our efforts to literally save lives. Dozens of my colleagues came to the aid of Ukraine when Russia attacked. That was when we felt the powerful effectiveness of the Summit, when we realized that our community was no longer just a soft power, that we could influence the course of events, that we could save lives. Even during the Summit last year, we raised funds for 92 ambulances for Ukraine. That Summit was called "Ukraine and the World: The Future We (Re)Build Together". And it was tangible that we were together. And this 'togetherness' continues," the First Lady of Ukraine said.
The theme of the Third Summit will be mental health. The theme of the event: "Mental Health: Fragility and Resilience of the Future".
"It's not just about war, but also about cataclysms, epidemics, earthquakes and other natural disasters, economic crises, and terrorist attacks. Because they affect the consciousness of each of us, no matter what country we live in. Mental health has no borders," the President's wife emphasized.
She said that a unique international sociological study was conducted specifically for the Summit. It was commissioned by the event and conducted by the British company Alligators Solutions in 11 countries to find out what people in different countries consider the most serious test for the psyche, what has the greatest impact on their mental state and what, on the contrary, helps to combat stress, how the war is perceived and affects public anxiety, and how young people assess their mental health. All the results of the study will be made public during the Summit.
The topics for discussion will include:
- Ways to avoid stigmatization of mental problems in society.
- The impact of war on the public mental state.
- Improving the mental health of the youth.
Also, for the first time, an additional Mental Stage location has been created. It will host a presentation and discussion of a new project under the auspices of the Summit - an international medical partnership - with the participation of health ministers from different countries.
"Due to the full-scale war, our medical system is suffering every day. Russia has already damaged 1427 medical facilities and destroyed another 189 to the ground. The enemy kills medics right at the workplace, destroys equipment and tries to inflict maximum losses on the medical system. That is why today our medical institutions need a reliable shoulder of support more than ever to continue to develop and provide quality medical care to Ukrainians. International medical partnership involves signing a memorandum of cooperation between specific medical institutions - Ukrainian and foreign. This means that a Ukrainian medical institution will get a "sister" abroad, with whom it will exchange experience, adopt best practices, organize internships for medics, etc.", Olena Zelenska said.
Another topic for discussion at the Mental Stage will be the impact of culture on mental health. This discussion will be attended by global opinion leaders, film and art stars. Timur Miroshnychenko, the Ukrainian voice of Eurovision, will host the special Mental Stage location.
The Third Summit will be hosted by British actor, director, and writer Stephen Fry and Ukrainian journalist Hanna Homonai.
According to the First Lady of Ukraine, no public funds were spent on the Summit. The costs of the Summit are covered by international organizations and business partners.
In particular, these are international partners: USAID and UN agencies, WHO, UNICEF, International Organization for Migration. The event is also supported by Mastercard, the Kyiv School of Economics Charitable Foundation, Yalta European Strategy, Bezbariernist NGO, UPG gas station network, BGV Charitable Foundation, VITAGRO agricultural group, and La Famiglia.
"The Summit is already making history in diplomacy. The fact that it is working during such a terrible war is unprecedented. And most importantly, we, the Summit and Ukraine as its founder, have changed and continue to change the role of first ladies in the world. We have demonstrated a new type of international organization and community - not hierarchical, not formal, but above all human, human-centered, and capable of change," Olena Zelenska is convinced.
The First Lady of Ukraine also noted that the Summit helps the global community define common values and adhere to them.
"All this time, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been ongoing, a crash test of the values of the whole world is taking place. Is the world ready to resist aggression or will it accept it? What will prevail - rules for all or brute force? Is there a place for justice, equal rights, and freedom in the modern world? These are all questions that every country and every person has to answer for themselves. So I want not only joint decisions, but also the declaration of common values that we will all adhere to in order to make the world a more humane place," the wife of the President of Ukraine summarized.