Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization’s office in Ukraine signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of mental health. The document, aimed at building the capacity of primary health care facilities in management of common mental disorders under the mhGAP program, was signed by Minister of Healthcare Viktor Liashko and Head of WHO Country Office in Ukraine Jarno Habicht.
The signing of the memorandum will make psychological assistance at the primary level of health care significantly more accessible to people.
“Last week, the Government added a new package “Support and treatment of adults and children with mental disorders at the primary level of health care” to the Medical Guarantees Program. This package will increase capitation rates for family doctors with appropriate education allowing them to carry out early diagnosis and provide basic psychological assistance to anyone who needs it. And today, with the support of WHO and partners, we are creating effective educational courses to strengthen the professional competencies of primary care professionals. These are program solutions that will bring these plans into reality. All these decisions are in line with the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support which is being implemented in Ukraine on the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska,” Viktor Liashko said.
The mhGAP program – Mental Health Gap Action Program – is a global WHO program launched in 2008 to promote access to mental health services through involvement of non-specialized personnel (for example, family doctors). During the program they are trained to provide assistance to people with common mental disorders (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal behavior, etc.)
The mhGAP program is implemented in more than 100 countries and its resources have been translated into more than 20 languages including Ukrainian. In Ukraine, the mhGAP program has been implemented by international and national partners since 2019. As of July 2022, 655 specialists have been trained: family doctors, pediatricians, therapists, paramedics, and nurses.
Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine, said: “Today’s meeting marks a historic moment as we have a commitment to strengthen the provision of mental health services in Ukraine at the primary level. WHO has been working with mhGAP for a long time, and in Ukraine such work began in 2019. But since the invasion of Ukraine by the russian federation on February 24 the needs have increased dramatically and we need to rapidly scale up training and service delivery. I thank the Ministry of Health and the Office of the First Lady for prioritizing mental health as more than 10 million people in Ukraine now require psychological help. And I thank all the partners who have expressed their willingness to join the implementation of mhGAP in Ukraine because together we can do more.”
In addition to conducting in-person trainings the partners are finalizing development of an online self-education course on the treatment of mental disorders in primary health care facilities in Ukraine. The course is based on mhGAP training materials. The first modules of the course will be launched in November.
As a reminder, the Government has added the package “Support and treatment of adults and children with mental disorders at the primary level of health care” to the Medical Guarantees Program.