The goal of the campaign is to supply frontline mental health facilities in Ukraine with the necessary medical and humanitarian aid, to provide psychological support to the Ukrainian population through a web-based self-help program, and to provide support to first responders.
Emergency aid to mental health institutions
Over the past weeks the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association and FGIP have developed a program to deliver emergency aid to mental health facilities in the country. The coordination center is located in the Western Ukrainian town Lviv, where material aid is collected and then prepared for shipment to the various facilities in the country. Two 22-ton trucks with aid have already arrived from The Netherlands, organized by a group of Dutch friends of Ukraine and donated by Dutch health organizations.
We are coordinating the provision of aid on basis of a careful inventory of the needs to make sure that help is provided as effectively as possible. So far we have been able to provide aid to mental health and other medical facilities in Chernihiv, Kramatorsk, Kyiv, Mikolayiv and Zhytomir. Coordinator is Dr. Tatyana Dergach, chief psychiatric specialist of the Ukrainian penitentiary who herself is a refugee from Donetsk (2014) and Kyiv (2022)
Psychological support to Ukraine
Health and GIP-Tbilisi, has developed an on-line psychological aid program. The first Russian-language version, samopomoch, was developed in the fall of 2020 after the repressions started in Belarus. It provides advise to the general population via social media, resources for mental health professionals through a special website and provides free on-line consultations to Human Rights Defenders. Since the war in Ukraine started, a similar program has been developed in Ukrainian.
FGIP, together with the Czech National Institute for Mental The platform provides guidance to both mental health professionals and the general population how to deal with the psychological consequences of the war. It advices how to maintain your mental health during times of crisis, what to do to combat e.g. panic, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and also where to go in case professional help is needed. A team of Ukrainian speaking psychotrauma experts are answering the many dozens of requests for help on a daily basis. With a growing team of experts we direct people to professional help in surrounding countries and are now setting up a support program for first responders who are facing burnout and the risk of secondary trauma.
Psychological Aid for First line Responders
A special target group are the first line responders in Ukraine, who are working under very difficult conditions and face issues of burn-out and trauma. This group included mental health professionals, ambulance workers, members of rescue teams as well as other target groups e.g. medics working in army hospitals and other medical facilities.
We are developing a team of Ukrainian mental health professionals with psychotrauma specialization, who will focus on these specific target groups. We will also organize regular supervision sessions for our own consultants in Ukraine. The sessions are run by our two psychotrauma specialists, Profs. Nino Makhashvili and Jana Javakhishvili from Ilia State University. The goal of the sessions is to support the colleagues in the field and to advise in complex crisis situations. We plan to train train three groups of a maximum of fifteen mental health professionals each, in psychotrauma care skills.
Crisis Center Vilnius
Many of the countries that house large refugee communities have a problem in providing mental health support to often very traumatized refugees. On one hand the local professionals do not know Russian or Ukrainian, and many refugees do not speak a foreign language, while mental health professionals from Ukraine itself are not allowed to work within the EU as their diplomas are not recognized. Our project offers a solution to this problem by creating an interface between existing mental health services and the refugee communities.
Lithuania has been chosen as a pilot country as it has a relatively large refugee community but also the ability to understand the needs of the target population due to a common historical past and a similar socio-cultural background.
A crisis center will be developed that will function as a link between the large refugee population and existing mental health care services. The crisis unit is connected to the Vilnius mental health center on Vasaros street in the city center, and will be a first focal point to deal with the high volume of people who are in need of professional help. The center will be staffed with mental health specialists from Belarus and Ukraine. The center will be able to provide help Ukrainian and Russian and will function as a direct link with existing mental health care services at the Vilnius Mental Health Center e.g. crisis intervention, inpatient and outpatient treatment and psychosocial education.