UNICEF and Ukraine’s First Lady unite experts to support children's mental health
Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has taken part in a strategic session dedicated to the development of mental health and psychosocial support service models for children and adolescents in Ukraine.
Mental health specialists, experts, representatives of ministries and departments, local governments, international and public organizations, and businesses joined the event, organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. The strategic session was held in support of the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, which was initiated by Zelenska.
"Thousands of Ukrainian children witness death, their lives are threatened, they face danger and fears, and they all unexpectedly become mature,” said Zelenska. “But they remain children and vulnerable. Our task is to protect both the physical and mental health of our children. We can't allow the burden of their experience to ruin their future. We should support them mentally and ensure as much assistance as possible.”
"Protecting childhood is a key priority for UNICEF,” added Head of UNICEF Ukraine Murat Sahin. “Children and young people who are at home, at a playground or at school, often fear for their lives and run to shelters multiple times each day. Children who are exposed to trauma, separated from their daily routines, impacted by war and scared from constant air raid sirens need mental health support. What happens in childhood can last a lifetime. We are committed to scaling up the national efforts led by the First Lady and building the capacity of teachers, communities, social workers and frontline health workers so that people learn self-help techniques for mental health issues, seek quality and affordable psychological and psychosocial support, and are not ashamed or hesitant to do it."
Participants of the strategic sessions worked in groups, sharing ideas on ways to develop services to provide psychological support. For example, the groups explored optimal ways of providing help and support, ways of receiving services, and the role of family, school, community, psychologists, doctors and businesses in these processes. Various areas related to children were analyzed to create a comprehensive system of care for the mental health of the younger generation.
The analytical team from the project office for the establishment of the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support will analyze all the ideas developed during the strategic session.
Information: The National Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programme is an initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska that aims to help Ukrainians overcome war-related stress and the consequences of experiencing traumatic events, as well as prevent the development of mental disorders. The development and implementation of the programme are coordinated by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, in cooperation with Ukrainian and foreign professionals. The initiative is implemented with the support of the World Health Organization.
UNICEF continues to help Ukrainian children affected by the war. Since February 24, the organization has provided psychological and social support to more than 1.4 million children and caregivers. Around 422,000 people have also received financial assistance.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.