Amidst the war, Ukraine’s First Mental Health Forum Hosts Hundreds in Kyiv
23 October 2023
KYIV, UKRAINE, 20 October 2023 – A first of its kind hybrid forum titled "Moving Towards Mental Health System & Services of the Future: A Case of Building Back and Forward Better in Ukraine" wrapped up its three-day run in Kyiv today.
Organized by World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coordination Center for Mental Health of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the forum brought together over 400 participants, with over two thousand more joining online. These included representatives of government agencies and non-governmental sector, local and international organizations, mental health experts from Ukraine and a number of countries - France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Slovakia, Canada, as well as from WHO headquarters and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
"Our task and the task of such forums is to establish horizontal cooperation. We need to understand who refers to whom and where if necessary. Who should “pick up” and provide the exact assistance a person needs,” said Ukraine’s Minister of Health Dr. Viktor Liashko during the welcoming panel.
The event served as a platform for showcasing global best practices, fostering the exchange of experiences, and crafting innovative solutions through cross-sectoral dialogue to address the pressing issue of mental health amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine.
"Cooperation is important not only at the national but also at the international level,” said Vice Prime Minister and the Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk. “Exchange of experience, coordination of efforts - all this is to ensure that all humanitarian resources sent to Ukraine go to where they are most needed.”
The Forum hosted presentations, panel discussions, workshops, interactive zones, and a marketplace where participating organizations presented their achievements and developments in the area of mental health. Discussions spinned the entire spectrum of mental health care - from awareness raising and fostering a culture of self-help to human rights and engagement of people with lived experience of mental health conditions.
"I am confident that the Forum will contribute to innovative solutions helping ensure that every Ukrainian has access to quality mental health services. We are continuing to make tremendous progress in spite of the ongoing war, and I am grateful to all the partners for coming together to make this work possible," added Dr. Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine.
The Forum is held within the framework of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program, created and implemented at the initiative of First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.
“Addressing the immense trauma and mental health impact of this war cannot wait. It is important to bring humanitarian supplies, but they need to be better connected to health care services and mental health support”, Denise Brown, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine.