President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska opened an extended meeting of the Interagency Coordination Council on Mental Health Protection and Provision of Psychological Assistance to Victims of the Armed Aggression of the Russian Federation

8 December 2022 - 19:49

Olena Zelenska opened an extended meeting of the Interagency Coordination Council on Mental Health Protection and Provision of Psychological Assistance to Victims of the Armed Aggression of the Russian Federation

As part of the implementation of the initiative of First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska to create a National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, an extended meeting of the Interagency Coordination Council on Mental Health Protection and Provision of Psychological Assistance to Victims of the Russian Federation's Aggression against Ukraine was held.

The meeting was attended by representatives of embassies and international organizations: the UN offices in Ukraine, the WHO Bureau in Ukraine, the ambassadors of the USA, Canada, Switzerland and the European Union, representatives of the embassy of Great Britain, heads of the RMA.

Olena Zelenska addressed the audience with an introductory speech.

"A simple question “How are you?” became the slogan of many of our mental health campaigns and turned out to be deeper than we thought, because it is not only about the physical state, but also about the state of mind. It sometimes takes months for the strongest of us to struggle not only with the enemy, but with our own stereotypes, to accept that the answer to this question might be “I'm not okay. It's hard for me, it's stressful." Psychological "not okay" is the current state of most of our compatriots. And talking about it, looking for a solution is normal, correct, mandatory," the President's wife said.

At the meeting, a document developed in the framework of the National Mental Health Program was presented - an operational road map "Priority multisectoral measures for mental health and psychosocial support in Ukraine during and after the war." The document was prepared by representatives of the public sector, UN agencies, international and Ukrainian organizations working in the field of development and humanitarian response, in coordination with WHO. The operational road map will allow you to quickly respond to challenges here and now. It defines the priorities that everyone who works in the field of mental health in the conditions of a humanitarian crisis should focus on. This will allow you to coordinate your actions in accordance with the priorities defined as a result of the analysis.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal noted that without sufficient focus on the mental health of the nation, we will have a significant burden on the medical, social, educational systems and the law enforcement system.

"The state will be the driver and coordinator of the creation of a new system of providing services in the field of mental health. Services that will be provided promptly, efficiently, without bureaucracy. Because the psychological state of a person affects our resistance to challenges. Losses in the economy can reach 4-5% of GDP. We see the well-being of Ukrainians as the main goal of our joint efforts. Let's persevere, overcome difficulties and rebuild Ukraine - a strong state, the main wealth of which is healthy and talented people," said the Prime Minister.

The participants of the meeting got acquainted with the results of the audit of citizens' needs in mental health care and psychosocial support services and the international experience of building mental health systems. Principles that can be used to improve the mental health care system in Ukraine were also presented. It is important that, in addition to positive international practices, considerable attention was paid to the study of mistakes in order to prevent their repetition in Ukraine.

"This war will become for us what is called in psychology the point of post-stress growth. On the basis of the acquired experience and analysis of the best international practices, we will build in Ukraine one of the most effective mental health support systems in the world, when everyone who needs it can get help. To do this, together with our partners, we develop laws and by-laws, train specialists, and create rules for the system. I am sure that we are on the right track, because after the war, millions of Ukrainians will need help in the field of mental health. And the state will be ready to provide it," Health Minister Viktor Lyashko emphasized.

In cooperation and with the expert support of the WHO, a single coordination center for the development of solutions and implementation of the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support was created - the Project Office under the Cabinet of Ministers. In the future, the projects developed and implemented by the ministries will undergo testing in the Project Office to avoid duplication and ensure that they meet all requirements and international standards.

"It is extremely important that all agencies are active participants in this interaction. We don't have time for long-term experiments, so the best international experience, collected for you in cooperation with Belgium, the USA, Great Britain and Israel, demonstrates what elements can be adapted for the service model in Ukraine. I would like to express my special thanks to the World Health Organization and USAID for their understanding of our needs and comprehensive assistance. And even today, it is becoming increasingly clear that the unique experience that, unfortunately, Ukraine is gaining, will enable our country to add its cases and practices to the global baggage of mental health," the President's wife emphasized.

The National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support is an initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska, which aims to help citizens overcome war-related stress and the consequences of experienced traumatic events, and prevent the development of mental disorders. The development and implementation of the program is coordinated by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine in close cooperation with Ukrainian and international specialists. The initiative is implemented with the support of the World Health Organization.