Mental Health without Prejudice

«Mental health without prejudice». The Ukrainians will be taught methods of mental self-preservation.

«To pay attention how to save physical health what is as important as mental» - it is the key «message» of press briefing «Psychological hygiene during the time of informative war», which took place in Kyiv in the «UA Crisis media center» on 7 December 2018, organized by NGO «Development Foundation» in partnership with the Сivil-Мilitary Сooperation group of Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Speakers were:

Sergiy Nagornyj
Colonel, Deputy Head of the moral and psychological service of the Land Forces Command, Armed Forces of Ukraine
Marta Pyvovarenko
chairwoman of NGO «Development Foundation», psychologist, with 15-year experience of counselling and trainings, supervisor for the providers of psycho-social support in Donbas

Vitaliy Kharechko

leader of project, «Mental health without prejudice», vice-chairman of the NGO «Development Foundation»
Katja Kolcio
Ph.D. Somatics, Associate Professor of Dance, Movement Studies, Environmental Studies Wesleyan University (CT, USA)

During the briefing, the launch of the project «Mental health without Prejudice» was announced. The project is supported by the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

Marta Pyvovarenko told that a project would be conducted on several levels: training for specialists and measures for the specialists of a psychosocial sphere, working directly with soldiers; international cooperation and exchange of scientific achievements in diagnostics and work with various psychological consequences of military conflicts; veterans and their families groups that aims to improve mental health.

Also within the framework of the program of a project, an on-line-platform will be created for the development of an international partnership of researchers in a psycho-social sphere. The movement for global mental health is a way to see that all peoples (especially those facing the war) are experiencing the same difficulties. The project is not limited to one country; in fact, the level of anxious symptoms grows everywhere, where the war takes place. The project includes inclusive principles because everyone has the right to be healthy.

Therefore is also planned preparation of social videos about the importance of psychological hygiene.

Its importance is especially noted by the military. It is about maintaining the moral and physical mobilization of the personnel, the ability to quickly recover (during the relative stabilization of the situation in the country) as a whole.

«The person who used to live in a peaceful world, called to military service, is forced to be ready to the actions in extreme conditions. Reconfiguration into combat missions – it already a big stress […] Then, when he comes back to a civil, peaceful life, he seems to have the problem of adaptation to the new living conditions», – told Serhij Nagorniy.

Vitaliy Kharechko told that «Development Foundation» has already been engaged in the topic of mental health for four years. This can be called "propaganda" of health. "Sometimes very simple methods, recipes help to cope with disturbing symptoms after a disaster that may occur," - he said. - When it is going about a military context, when our soldiers on East suffer from acute stress – they have to understand and to know how to keep themselves in good shape (in state of physical and psychological resistance to stress - being resilient) and do your duties. On the other side, when they will come back, it is important to know how they could go over from the mobilized state in the Martial low time to a more relaxed state, enter into a normal life rhythm. But in general, all Ukrainians are in a mobilized state now. Our project, our mission, is to bring this information to people as easy as possible what is mental health and how to keep it healthy. Brushing teeth every day - is a normal practice - we do it “automatically”. But, to care about psychological hygiene is supposed to be as something unnecessary than overspending your time. Even, when obsessive ideas or aggressive behavior appear, people consider that they not need to work with it! That is not right!».

“It is easier to prevent than to treat”, – convinced Marta Pyvovarenko. For this reason the program focuses on self-help skills development, including, on the conduction the effective decompression after returning from the front. However, it is important to mark that this program is not about individual psychotherapy of the veteran or his family members. Rather about the systems approach. The main principle is not to «save everyone», but to give psychological instruments to fighters, veterans, and also to the specialists who work with them, and to teach them how to use new methods in psychotherapeutic work - this is the most effective help.

«Somatic is based on the integration of body with a brain, - added in her speech Katja Kolcio.– Somatic relates not only to the health on the whole but also helps to prepare the body to the extreme situations and also to renovate from the outlived traumas – both physical and psychological». According to her, somatics is a combination of internal experience with the external environment for the awareness of a present moment.

As it works in practice – everyone could be convinced and try one of the simple exercises, offered by Marta, which help to be «focusedagain» after stress situation. Similar techniques will be introduced for soldiers before they start service – in fact, these are exactly those simple things which save a life.

Authors of photos from the event:

@Olena Maksymenko


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