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Olena Zelenska at a conference on mental health in Berlin: Ukrainian experience of resilience is unique at the moment

02 Feb, 2024
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Olena Zelenska at a conference on mental health in Berlin: Ukrainian experience of resilience is unique at the moment

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First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska is in Berlin to participate in the Ukrainian-German conference on mental health, psychosocial support and rehabilitation.

She began her visit with a meeting with the wife of the President of Germany, Elke Büdenbender.

"It is very important for me to be in Germany today, which is one of the world leaders in providing assistance to Ukraine. We are very grateful for this and appreciate that the support from Germany is growing. We appreciate your personal support for Ukraine and Ukrainians," Olena Zelenska emphasized.

 

 

The President's wife also thanked for holding the Ukrainian-German conference on mental health, psychosocial support and rehabilitation.

"This topic is extremely close to me, because in 2022, after the start of the full-scale invasion, I initiated the development and launch of the All-Ukrainian mental health program "How are you?". I am extremely grateful to Germany for the event, for the opportunity to share experiences, and for the launch of new partnerships. And I thank Mrs. Elke for her personal invitation to join the event," she said.

The conference was organized jointly with the wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the German Platform for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, the Charité University Hospital of Berlin and the BG Kliniken.

The concept of the conference reflects the content of the discussions at the level of health ministers held during the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen on September 6, 2023 in Kyiv.

The aggression launched by Russia against Ukraine has not only left many people with traumas that have altered their physical health, but also caused psychological wounds. A comprehensive approach to physical and mental recovery is the basis for building capacity in all aspects of Ukraine's future recovery. In addition, resilience can be bolstered by establishing an effective and accessible psychological care system and promoting a culture of self-care for mental health. These two themes are fundamental elements of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program initiated by First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska. To further enhance and support these efforts, leading Ukrainian, German, and international experts in mental health, psychosocial support, and rehabilitation took part in professional discussions during the conference.

 

 

At the event, Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko and German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach signed a document on behalf of their respective institutions to boost cooperation between the countries and improve the healthcare system – the Joint Declaration of Intent on Cooperation. The signed document defines key areas of cooperation at the ministerial level.

The conference featured welcoming speeches by Dr. Karl Lauterbach and Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze. Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Liashko delivered a speech on the topic "Ukrainian healthcare system during the war: resilience, transformation and strategic priorities".

Oksana Zbitnieva, Head of the Coordination Center for Mental Health under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, presented the results of the study "Mental Health as a Top Priority: Findings of Global Research in Ukraine, Germany and 9 Other Countries" conducted for the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen.

"40% of German residents feel the impact of global conflicts, and thus the war in Ukraine. This is not necessarily a physical or social impact, but rather a mental one, when anxiety and uncertainty become a daily companion. As we had hoped, this large, qualitative study is beginning to take on a life of its own and benefit not only us, but also other countries interested in the well-being of their citizens. Ukraine has gone through the process of building psychological aid at a fast pace – forced by the enemy invasion. Having started with the accumulation of other people's experience, we can now share ours," Olena Zelenska emphasized.

She and German First Lady Elke Büdenbender answered the moderator's questions about the situation with mental health during the war.

 

 

The wife of the President of Ukraine spoke about the formation of a fundamentally new system of psychological support for Ukrainians.

"Psychological assistance has taken a step towards people. A psychologist is no longer some professor in a distant office in the capital. A psychologist is someone you already know and trust. First of all, it is a family doctor, a close friend, an acquaintance from the neighboring street whom you have been seeing all your life. Another such point of entry to psychological help is resilience centers. These are social service centers that are being opened in all cities and towns. A person can come there to restore documents or receive social assistance, and at the same time find moral support and guidance. It is important to develop psychological literacy from childhood. Ukrainian schoolchildren started this school year with a lesson on mental health. Mental health is becoming a part of corporate culture – both large and small businesses should take care of their employees. After all, mental health does not begin and end in a psychologist's office – in all life situations, a person should feel mental safety, that is, understanding and help," the First Lady said.

Olena Zelenska emphasized that the mental health program is aimed at maintaining resilience: "It's hard to run on adrenaline alone for a long time. We need to change our fuel – let it be a deep understanding of ourselves and others, trust and confidence that there is always a solution."

 

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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