Joint UNICEF/NaUKMA Project
«Comprehensive Psychosocial Support to Conflict-Affected Children, Adolescents, and Families in Ukraine»
2015 — 2016
In November 2015, UNICEF Ukraine announced the "Children on Peace” flagship project funded by ECHO (the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department)to provide education and psychosocial support (PSS) to conflict-affected children in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions.
The PSS component of the bigger EU/UNICEF initiative is a project “Comprehensive Psychosocial Support to Conflict-Affected Children, Adolescents, and Families in Ukraine» implemented by the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and Ukrainian Scientific & Methodological Center of Applied Psychology and Social Work. The NaUKMA expert team proposed a holistic PSS approach according to the IASC intervention pyramid for mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies: help for children on different levels – family, community, school, focused psychological support, and specialized psycho-therapeutic assistance.
In the framework of the project, about 800 school psychologists and 4000 teachers in Eastern Ukraine have been trained on skills and techniques to strengthen children’s and caregivers’ psychosocial resilience and coping mechanisms, and to create supportive and safe schoolchildren environment. Besides, all the project trainees were provided with a regular follow-up mentoring and supervision support by the NaUKMA project trainers within the project duration.
The project has shown effectiveness of the school-based model of psychosocial support and prevention for children and families.
NaUKMA aimed to build multi-layered intervention system: 1st level for all children – in-class intervention – provided by teachers; 2nd level – out of class for children with higher levels of stress – provided by school psychologists; 3rd level – out of class (school) for children with several emotional/behavioural symptoms – provided by specialized mental health services.
The project design was for teachers to use a more supportive approach in all their interactions with all children, both inside and outside of classes. Some specific activities, e.g., stress management activities, undertaken for purposes of improving psychosocial well-being were conducted out of class, but the overall approach teachers use (communicating better with children, creating a more supportive, protective environment, etc.) was found to apply during actual class time as well. The PSS component involved a mixture of specific activities and also an overall change of approach in classrooms and schools.
The project supported the NaUKMA Centre for Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Slovyansk to provide free professional specialized assistance for more severely affected children and their families.
In general, over 250 000 children and caregivers in Eastern Ukraine were reached by the project PSS programme.
The programme still receives positive feedback from the beneficiaries.
The programme effectiveness was confirmed by the research findings. According to the data obtained, the teachers trained were able to help children to overcome emotional difficulties, improve relationships between children and increase prosocial behavior but had no significant impact on hyperactivity and traumatic stress. Those problems could be most effectively treated outside of class by school psychologists; more severely problems – by psychotherapists outside of school. Research results showed reduction of psychosocial distress among children by more than six times (on statistically significant level): stress index of 5,7 % (N = 120) at the end of the programme compared to the index of 37% (N=767) prior the programme.
The project was evaluated by the independent experts Michael Wessels, Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health (Columbia University, USA) and Christopher Talbot, Consultant, Education in Emergencies (France) as one of the finest projects dealing with PSS support for children in over 50 years of combined experience in emergency settings.
At the final press-conference on 2 February 2017, the Minister of Education of Ukraine Lilia Hrynevych highly appraised positive results achieved by the project and stressed on importance of PSS course for teachers all over Ukraine to strengthen psycho-social resilience.
Research summary: UNICEF psychosocial support programs for school children in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts. Autors: Bogdanov, S, Kovalevskaya, J., Girnyk, A., Chernobrovkin, V., Chernobrovkina, V., Panok, V., Lunchenko, N., Basenko, O., Ivanyuk, I., Eutuhov, D., Lasorenko, B., Savinov, V. 2017
- Website of the NaUKMA Center for Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (CMHPSS);
- FB page of the NaUKMA Center for Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support;
- FB page of NaUKMA Center for Psycho-Social Rehabilitation;
- CMHPSS resourse portal.
Centers for Posttraumatic Stress Rehabilitation
Recent violent military, political, and social developments in Ukraine have had a traumatizing effect causing posttraumatic stress disorder on many individuals in the population.
National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy established two Centers to support conflict-affected individuals, one in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, and one in Sloviansk, a city in of 100,000 located in Donbas that was the site of fierce fighting between Russian-backed terrorists and Ukrainian military. All services are provided free of charge.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. The condition can cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.
Risk groups include people involved in the events around Maidan, АТО combatants (Anti-Terrorist Operation), internally displaced people (there are approximately 1.5 million internal refugees), volunteers, journalists, and others.
Prevention and treatment require necessary specialized assistance from psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, lawyers to insure comprehensive solutions.
There are no expert assessments on the number of people who suffer from psychological disorders caused by traumatic events in Ukraine. However, some international research findings suggest that 3-7% of people who suffered from trauma may have post-traumatic stress disorders. For military personnel, this index reaches 30 %. Most of them have no access to free, qualified and specialized services.
Established by the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and led by the university's Psychology Department, the programs are held in cooperation governmental and non-governmental organizations, in Kyiv and Sloviansk, such as Donbas National Pedagogical University, UNICEF, Maltese Aid in Ukraine, Bloomberg School of public health Johns Hopkins University.
The director of the Program is Dr. Sergey Bogdanov. Dr. Bogdanov is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, Head of the Center for mental health and Psychosocial Support and lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Pedagogic at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Dr. Bogdanov is a member of the global Mental Health and Psychosocial Network for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants on the move in Europe (MHPSS). He completed PhD study at the Vienna Medical University and worked as psychotherapist during his stay in Vienna with refugees from all over the world in Caritas Family Center.
The Center in Kyiv is located at vul. Glazunova 2/4
in Sloviansk at vul. Tsentralna 12
Socio-psychological factors of stress resilience of children living in the military conflict buffer zone in the east of Ukraine. Bogdanov S., Girnyk A., Lazorenko B., Savinov V., Solovyova V. // Проблеми політичної психології, 4 (18). pp. 40-51. ISSN 2411-1449
Research summary: UNICEF psychosocial support programs for school children in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts. Autors: Bogdanov, S, Kovalevskaya, J., Girnyk, A., Chernobrovkin, V., Chernobrovkina, V., Panok, V., Lunchenko, N., Basenko, O., Ivanyuk, I., Eutuhov, D., Lasorenko, B., Savinov, V. August 2017
Full presentation. June 14-18, 2017
Full presentation. May 2017