UNICEF Kazakhstan is addressing the emerging needs for psychological support during the COVID-19 outbreak

276 people gain online psychological assistance and over 5,000 school psychologists and mental health specialists were trained during the last three months.

06 August 2020
Mother with children
UNICEF/Kaliyev

Nur-Sultan, 6 August 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of millions of children and their families profoundly, increasing anxiety, stress and uncertainty among all people. The National Centre for Mental Health of the Ministry of Healthcare (NCMH) of the Republic of Kazakhstan jointly with UNICEF and with the financial support of Citi Foundation launched a special website (https://covid-19.mentalcenter.kz) to give information and serve as a platform for individual online counselling services meeting the emerging needs of population for psychological assistance and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the existing demand in professional capacity building and development among psychologists, the launch of the online counselling platform included an educational program for specialists.

“In these unprecedented times when the spread of the novel coronavirus has affected the lives of children and their families in multiple ways, psychological support plays a key role in maintaining mental health during quarantine and isolation,” said UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Arthur van Diesen. “Thanks to these initiatives and cooperation of all partners we were able to support the organization of more than 276 individual online sessions. Online consultations go in parallel with professional capacity development in remote psychological support. Up to now, over 50 capacity building sessions have been organized on psychological support and mental health needs of children and adolescents, families, front line health workers involved in the COVID-19 response, and those who lost their loved ones. We are committed to expanding our support to reach more families in need.”

All information and counselling services on the website, launched in April 2020, are accessible in Kazakh and Russian. These interventions are aimed at providing practical recommendations, tips on stress management techniques and self-help. Access to specific recommendations is open to all, with a specific focus on several target groups:

  • Children and adolescents, and their families;
  • People with disabilities; 
  • Healthcare professionals directly involved in the COVID-19 response;      
  • People in self-isolation; and
  • Older adults.

A team of 58 online counselling specialists has been selected throughout the country from over 100 psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists who volunteered to become online counsellors. To date, 32,381 users have visited the covid-19.mentalcenter.kz website.

“We advise all parents and children who have questions or problems to visit this website to get psychological help and support freely and anonymously. You can find simple tips to relieve stress and anxiety, improve your well-being, and advice on how to talk with your child,” shared Youth and Adolescent Development Officer, Aigul Kadirova. “If visiting the website for any reason is not possible, parents and adolescents can always contact a school psychologist or call the 1406 hotline of the Ministry of Health or “150” trust line (via WhatsApp +77081060810 or the website www.telefon150.kz). The main thing is not to give up and try to help yourself and your child.”

School psychologists

In May 2020 a new page for school psychologists offering counselling services for case management and supervision was launched under the joint action plan of the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES), NCMH and UNICEF. The plan includes online training sessions for school psychologists of all seventeen regions of the country. The online training is organized with the financial support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Three guidelines for specialists with practical tips and exercises have been developed in both Kazakh and Russian. To date 49 online webinars have been conducted for school and college psychologists, with 7,960 online participants.

Participants of the webinars especially appreciated the accessibility of presentations in Kazakh and Russian languages, relevance, and timeliness of the materials, as well as a high quality of trainers in their feedbacks.

“On behalf of all psychologists of the Almaty region I want to express my gratitude to the organizers for these webinars. The information was very practical and effective, and we learned a lot of skills which we could use in our daily work and life. Trainers explained materials very well,” said coordinator of educational psychologists in the Almaty region Dinara Kydykenova.

School psychologists from remote settlements with limited Internet connectivity were able to access the webinar recordings on the YouTube channelМentalcenter QAZAQSTAN developed for this purpose with 719 subscriptions recorded since the launch of webinars. An additional 17,321 views of recordings of webinars for school psychologists were registered. The total reach (including YouTube) is 25,405. Key topics in online training sessions for school psychologists were:

  • How to give remote psychological support and counselling to families and children;
  • Support to school staff to prevent burnout and stress; and
  • Adolescent suicide prevention during quarantine.

 

#Note for Editors

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF Kazakhstan on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. To know more, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional and USAID/Central Asia’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USAIDCentralAsia 

Citi is the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi has become one of the largest multinational investors in Kazakhstan and helped our clients here raise tens of billions of U.S. dollars in financing.  www.citigroup.com

 

For more information, please contact:

Elvira Yausheva, Communication Specialist, tel: +7 707 109 8553; eyausheva@unicef.org

Assel Saduova, Communication Associate, tel.: +7 777 881 05 47; asaduova@unicef.org

 

Media Contacts

Elvira Yausheva
Communication Specialist
UNICEF
Tel: +7 707 109 8553
Assel Saduova
Communication Associate
UNICEF Kazakhstan
Tel: +7 (7172) 32-28-78 (144)

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on InstagramFacebook  and Twitter.