On 22 September in Lviv at Ukrainian Catholic University, a complex program regarding mental health and the psychosocial support of the civilian population in the Lviv Region for 2023-2026 was presented.
A working group at the Lviv Regional Military Administration (RMA) under the direction of the head of the Lviv RMA, Maksym Kozytskyi, with the support and participation of Ukrainian Catholic University, the charitable foundation DiahnomeD, the Ukrainian-Swiss project Mental Health for Circle, the Family Circle Mental Health Center, and the civic organization Bird of Ukraine worked on the program.
The program’s main goal is to improve the mental health of and provide psychosocial support for the residents of Lviv Region, the military, members of their families, internally displaced persons, and children who have suffered the most because of the war.
Speaking at the presentation were psychologists, psychotherapists, and specialists in social work who were involved in developing the program, in particular: Orest Suvalo, assistant head of the working group that developed the program, coordinator of the Ukrainian-Swiss project Mental Health for Ukraine, and executive director of the UCU Institute of Mental Health; Oleh Romanchuk, doctor-therapist, children’s psychiatrist of the Family Circle Center and director of the UCU Institute of Mental Health and the Ukrainian Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; and Svitlana Kohut, Dean of the UCU Health Sciences Faculty.
“Challenges brought about by the war are only growing, and we should increase our capacities in appropriate fields: train experts in education, health care, and the social sphere, so that our services will be more accessible and respond to the needs of society. The World Health Organization speaks of the serious consequences war has on mental health for 10 years. In the summer, we worked on a program to overcome the influence of war; we also have developed three main areas: education, medicine, and the social sphere,” stated Orest Suvalo.
The program’s main task in mental health and the psychosocial support of the population is conducting educational work, raising the qualification of experts in the field of mental health, and developing a network of social service providers. The implementation of the program will be supported by departments of health care, education, and social protection of the population of the Lviv Regional State Administration (RSA), and also institutions of education and health care, social workers, psychologists, and civic organizations.
During her presentation, Svitlana Kohut spoke about the role of social workers: “The war has intensified and revealed very many problems in the social sphere. The number of categories that need social support and help has significantly increased. It is important that the Ministry of Social Policy has a vision and understanding of social processes, and also important is essential support from international organizations. Together with this, as experience demonstrates, a number of tendencies are differentiated in social work today: the growth of the awareness of citizens of Ukraine regarding the significance of social service for the life of the person and a given community; requests on the ground, in communities, a real need for expert-practitioners; and the desire of young people to get involved in socially useful work.”
The program in mental health and the psychosocial support of the population is an organic continuation in the Lviv Region of those changes which at the national level First Lady Olena Zelenska initiated as part of the mental health program “How are you?” regarding the psychological rehabilitation of defenders, psychological help for members of their families, people who received physical or psychological trauma as a consequence of the war, and also for all Ukrainians who suffer stress in the conditions of war, particularly children.
Yaroslav Prytula during a panel discussion
Yaroslav Prytula, Senior Vice-Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University, spoke during the meeting about how UCU is already working to help communities and about the principle of service learning: “We want to give students opportunities to go out and help people. In particular, at UCU service learning is an important principle, when the student doesn’t just sit and learn something theoretically at a desk, but goes out into the community where there’s a need. We, as a university, recently initiated the creation of the Alliance of Ukrainian Universities, where six institutes of higher education joined together to carry out projects aimed at rebuilding Ukraine. And our first initiative is a project to develop communities. We also want to help veterans, provide them social and psychological support.”
We note that the Coordinating Center for the Support of the Civilian Population at the Lviv RSA will coordinate the program.
- Ukrainian Catholic University
- the Ukrainian-Swiss project Mental Health for Ukraine
- Family Circle Mental Health Center
- the civic organization Bird of Ukraine
Photos: Lviv RSA