President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska: High-quality psychological assistance should appear even in rural outpatient clinics

19 July 2023 - 18:40

Olena Zelenska: High-quality psychological assistance should appear even in rural outpatient clinics

The First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, together with USAID Administrator Samantha Power, visited the Mykhailivka-Rubezhivka outpatient general practice family medicine clinic of the Irpin City Primary Health Care Center.

The outpatient clinic was opened in its current format on April 1, 2021. As of today, it employs four doctors, three nurses, orderlies, and technical staff. The facility serves about 3900 people. Since February 28, 2022, the village of Mykhailivka-Rubezhivka has been under occupation. Immediately after the village was liberated, the outpatient clinic resumed its work.

The institution has contracts for three packages of medical services from the National Health Service. These are primary care, mobile palliative care, and support and treatment of adults and children with mental disorders.

The outpatient clinic's medical staff was trained under the World Health Organization's (WHO) mhGAP program, which is aimed at managing cases of mental and neurological disorders in non-specialized health care facilities. The doctors and nurses learned how to provide care to people with common mental disorders, communicate effectively with patients and their relatives, assess key disorders, treat mild to moderate disorders, and send patients to relevant specialists and services.

"The main resource of the country is a healthy and capable person. Previously, mental health services were provided in medical institutions in large cities. But they carried a heavy burden of stigma. It used to be punitive and coercive medicine. We need to change the attitude to mental health and bring the service closer to the consumer. The outpatient clinic we are in now is an example of bringing the service closer. The task of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine is to have an overall high level of such services," the First Lady said.

The outpatient clinic team also took part in the USAID project "Building a Sustainable Public Health System". With the Agency's support, the facility created a psychological support room called "I Care About Myself", where individual and group sessions are available in a comfortable environment.

As part of the same project, the outpatient clinic staff are taking part in the Healing the Body and Mind training and mentoring program of the Center for Psychosomatic Medicine. This is a program developed by mental health experts at Georgetown University (USA). Its goal is to reduce the impact of psychotraumatic factors, prevent anxiety disorders, and improve the level of psychological comfort of the population.

"The residents of the de-occupied Irpin district need psychological support especially. I am glad to visit the outpatient clinic with USAID Administrator Samantha Power so that she can see the results of our cooperation. USAID is one of the main partners of Ukraine in humanitarian issues, in particular the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program, which aims to ensure that psychological assistance is freely available in every community, like in Mykhailivka-Rubezhivka," Olena Zelenska said.

With the assistance of USAID, the project "Building a Resilient Public Health System" is being implemented in 16 communities in eight regions of Ukraine: Chernihiv, Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Ternopil, Chernivtsi, and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

The First Lady thanked Samantha Power for cooperation, as well as for USAID's significant and systematic support in many areas of Ukraine's life during the war, from energy to infrastructure restoration and targeted financial support for public sector professionals.

The President's wife also proposed a new project of cooperation - an international medical partnership to restore the capacity and capability of the Ukrainian healthcare system to overcome the impact of the war on people's health.

"The international medical partnership is also a component of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen. I invite you to personally join the Summit. It will be devoted to mental health and should become a platform for a high-quality global discussion between top industry experts and first ladies," Olena Zelenska said.