Posted on 2 Oct, 2020 by Heiko Königstein (project leader) & Karina Witte (project coordinator)

The SDC-funded project, Mental Health for Ukraine (MH4U), implemented by GFA in partnership with Implemental and the University of Zurich, launched an online course: Spring School of Mental Health. The course is designed to provide the necessary practical skills for administering a comprehensive and effective service in the field of mental health to all those who are interested in the topic of mental health care for community’s. As little as 37%* of people in Ukraine consider themselves as being aware of mental health and a mental health survey has also found that 69% of respondents would like to find out more on the topic while sensing that the present information available to be inadequate. The online course will be useful for specialists working in the field of mental health, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, nurses, social workers, representatives of NGOs, institutions of health care; as well as for those who are ready to change and implement new approaches of providing mental health services in Ukraine along with the implementation thereof.

Thanks to the Spring School of Mental Health, best practices on the development of mental health care are now made available in Ukrainian for a wider audience. This online course includes 12 educational modules; 16 national and international experts; and 14 hours worth of material via an online portal.

The online course serves to answer the following questions:

  • Why is it important to develop community mental health services?
  • What is the scientific and ethical evidence for community based mental health service development?
  • What is the link between mental health and human rights?
  • What is public mental health; how to implement innovations and manage change?
The participants will learn from the experience and best practices on reforming mental health care in various countries such as the Czech Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the United Kingdom.

Irina Mikichak, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Heath Care of Ukraine, stated: "In Ukraine, the financial system of the mental health services is transforming. The shortfall of underfunding psychiatric hospitals in Ukraine totals to 898 million UAH. We understand the importance of changing the system from the bottom-up: to teach the family doctors, clinical psychologists, social workers; and to involve many people to develop a center of mental health. Thanks to regional and national educational projects, everyone will be able to get effective tools and the necessary support to create an effective mental health system. This will allow for establishing an inter-sectoral cooperation not only at the level of health care facilities, but also at the level of local and regional self-government bodies."

The leader of the MH4U project, Heiko Königstein, employed by GFA, also conveyed the following: "The Spring School of Mental Health was initially planned as an annual international conference on mental health. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have subsequently created an online course that will be available to everyone over the next few years. Developed by Ukrainian and international experts, it is designed for people who want to join the development of the mental health sector in Ukraine, whether they belong to medical, social or other fields. We want for the health and social care professionals to join their efforts with those of local authorities and NGOs in order to improve mental health services. All participants will enhance their ability to start the improvement of mental health services in their community via engagement in this course."