President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska participated in a Ukraine-UK roundtable discussion on post-war mental health recovery for children and adolescents

1 March 2024 - 19:51

Olena Zelenska participated in a Ukraine-UK roundtable discussion on post-war mental health recovery for children and adolescents

During her visit to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska participated in a Ukraine-UK roundtable discussion titled "Ensuring a Bright Future: Post-War Mental Health Recovery for Children and Adolescents."

The meeting took place in a hybrid format and included leading UK and Ukrainian experts, government representatives, international organizations, the civil sector, the academic community, and children's ombudspersons.

"Unfortunately, Ukraine has been living under extreme conditions for two years of invasion and has already gained extensive practical knowledge in dealing with mental health: 90% of our people have a high or very high level of stress. This applies not only to defenders but also to civilians who experience stress daily due to shelling and the constant awareness of the possibility of death," said Olena Zelenska. "But mental health is not only our local challenge but also a global one and the response to it must be joint and comprehensive."

A sociological survey conducted in 11 countries on behalf of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen showed that mental health is among the greatest global challenges for the next five to twenty years. Every second person in the world feels the impact of Russian military aggression against Ukraine. More than a third of respondents noted the impact of conflicts from the past century. According to the survey results, adolescents aged 13-15 are the most vulnerable. Therefore, one of the discussion topics was the challenges facing modern children and adolescents, including those resulting from the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, and ways to overcome them.

"If young people feel security and confidence instead of anxiety and stress now, it will impact the world's future. After all, the younger generation is the one who will lead in a few years. And this is our most valuable investment in the future," said the First Lady.

The United Kingdom has over 50 years of experience in implementing systemic solutions in the field of mental health, which other countries, including Ukraine, are adopting, and developing their systems of services and programs. At the same time, the unique experience gained by our country and Ukrainian experts can already contribute to the global treasury. Therefore, participants discussed ways to establish partnerships in the field of mental health between government institutions, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and community leaders of the two countries.

On the eve, the wife of the President of Ukraine met with Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom Victoria Atkins.

"I am grateful to Madam Secretary and all British colleagues for their support, openness, and readiness to cooperate. We want it to be mutually beneficial, to strengthen all of us, both our countries and ideally, the whole world," said Olena Zelenska.

The First Lady also visited the Youth Resilience Unit, funded by Barts Charity. It commenced its work on March 1, 2021.

The unit's aim is to study how young people use resources in the community to overcome mental distress. The co-director of the unit is a British psychiatrist of Ukrainian origin, Dennis Ougrin.

"It is important that during times of crisis, teenagers have access to individuals who can help them understand themselves and their feelings. I am proud that in London, such assistance is provided, including by a Ukrainian. Ukraine is also working on creating a quality and accessible system of services in the field of mental health for teenagers who have experienced numerous traumas due to the war," said the First Lady.