A new National Mental Health Action Plan has been approved in Ukraine, setting the stage for improved mental health care in the country. Approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers in October 2021, the new plan will include integration of mental health services into general health care provision and the development of community-based mental health teams.

Integration of mental health services into primary health care was defined as a priority area at the outset of health care reform in Ukraine. WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims to scale up mental health services in non-specialized health settings, such as in primary health care services, to achieve universal health coverage.

“We know that many determinants of mental health can be addressed through a healthy lifestyle and well-functioning primary health care,” said Iryna Mykychak, Deputy Minister of Health. “We see that primary health care should have a prominent role in prevention, recognition, and basic care for common mental health conditions, and we have learned good lessons from implementing mhGAP in Ukraine.”

Equal access to mental health services
Prompted by the growing need for national mhGAP trainers, WHO and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health conducted a second series of sessions for trainers on the clinical management of common mental health conditions in primary health care settings, with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Nataliya Morgun is a therapist and Head of Outpatient Clinic Number 10 in Slovyansk, located in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. She is one of the health professionals using mhGAP in her daily work and says the programme makes her role easier and less stressful. “It helps a doctor to pay attention to a patient’s personal life, their mood, sleep, nutrition, and character traits,” she notes. “It has increased my patients’ trust in me,” adding, “mhGAP Intervention Guide might have a complicated name, but it’s a crucial step-by-step guide to determine what a patient needs today and what prevents them from living a normal life. Taking these steps can help us to improve both the patient’s physical and mental health.”

“It is important to keep our support for further development of mental health services while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that everyone in Ukraine has equal access to quality care for their mental health during emergencies and beyond,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine.

As of October 2021, WHO and partners have trained and provided supervision to more than 370 primary health care workers, and they have translated and adapted mhGAP tools, and piloted mhGAP interventions in selected regions in Ukraine. This has enabled access to quality mental health services for a population of more than 400 000 people and WHO will continue to provide further supervision to support new mhGAP trainers.

Source: ehttps://www.euro.\uro.