Country in focus: Early implementation in Ukraine

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In September 2020 Ukraine’s programme design was finalized and validated by the Ukraine Ministry of Health (MOH). From September 2020, Ukraine colleagues began implementation of early and urgent actions and have already:

Trained 42 primary healthcare workers on mhGAP, bringing mental health services to 65,000 more people. Alongside this, they established supervision networks, referral procedures and M&E systems;

  • Supported the development of guidelines for community-based mental health services, leading to the creation of community-based mental health teams;
  • Translated the QualityRights package to Ukrainian; and
  • Developed a one-year online course for mental health leaders in collaboration with the University of Lisbon.

The impact of Ukraine’s early progress can already be seen with many people having accessed mental health services since the creation of the community-based mental health teams in September 2020.

One of these people is Alexander*, aged 31. In October 2020, Alexander came into contact with a mental health case worker for the first time. Having lived with schizophrenia since his adolescence, Alexander had never received treatment because his father, who had a negative experience of mental health care himself, did not wish for his son to experience the same type of treatment.

Living with his grandmother, Alexander rarely left his house. He struggled to maintain personal hygiene and social connections. He felt he was a burden to his grandmother. Having heard of Alexander from another community member, the community-based mental health teams visited Alexander and his grandmother. He was informed about the recovery programme and despite Alexander and his family being apprehensive at first, great results started showing in only a few weeks.

The medication that Alexander was prescribed allowed him to stop experiencing hallucinations and begin thinking more clearly about his life goals. Feeling better he began leaving the house more often and was supported to re-engage with his social and professional life. Today Alexander is putting his strength in English to great use, working as a translator.

In the new year, the Ukraine team will expand the geographical reach of established services and continue supporting development of community-based services and teams; efforts intended to transform long-stay facility based care in Ukraine to community-based care.

*A made-up name for privacy purposes