Wear a mask. Don’t mask your feelings

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM in Ukraine has established a toll-free emotional support hotline 0 800 211 444 and launched a public campaign.

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is promoting the importance of mental health and psychosocial support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), IOM established a toll-free emotional support hotline 0 800 211 444 and launched a public campaign.

Through the hotline, in little of over two months, a team of eleven psychologists have provided individual counselling and multiple follow-up sessions to hundreds of callers with age range 14–81, 80 per cent of whom are women. IOM psychologists have also been working closely with local authorities, as well as with social and medical institutions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions (government-controlled areas) to train staff on how to manage their own stress and better serve their communities.

To contribute to overcoming the general stigma associated with seeking psychological support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM Ukraine has launched the information campaign “Wear Your Mask, Don’t Mask Your Feelings.” Through billboards, posters in train carts, articles on traditional and social media, as well as TV and radio broadcasting, IOM not only shared messages on the importance of wearing a mask but also provided avenues for seeking mental health and psychosocial support.

In addition to the traditional campaign channels, several Ukrainian artists developed door posters reminding about the need to wear a mask and providing the IOM emotional support hotline number. IOM encourages retail enterprises, pharmacies and everyone interested to download them from the website https://kindremind.com.ua.

Using momentum of the New Year holidays, IOM presented a street installation of a huge mask in the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv.

“Mental health is as important as physical health in these difficult times. We support efforts to destigmatize mental health and increase access to care,” said Renee Lariviere, Regional Refugee Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

“I would like to thank all those Ukrainians who will choose to continue wearing a mask as an act of civil duty and love for other fellow citizens,” said IOM Ukraine’s Officer in Charge, doctor Risatul Islam, opening the installation in Kyiv. “I would also like to thank those in distress who will not fear to show their emotions in these difficult times, and will choose to reach out to the IOM hotline as an important way of supporting themselves, their family and their community,” he added.

UN entities involved in this initiative
International Organization for Migration