Wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska had a phone conversation with Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium, during which the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support developed at the initiative of the First Lady was discussed. The program aims to help Ukrainians overcome the extreme stress and consequences of the traumatic events of the war.
Her Majesty is a professional psychologist and advocates for global mental health as a UN Advocate for Sustainable Development.
Olena Zelenska invited Queen Mathilde to join the development of the program, as Belgium has successfully reformed the adult mental health system and introduced a new policy on the mental health of children and adolescents. Therefore, such an experience would be extremely useful for Ukraine.
“I am especially worried about the children in this regard. They see too much. We have the example of an 18-year-old boy who witnessed his mother’s death and took care of four younger siblings. He can’t talk about what happened without tears. And this is not an isolated case, children are traumatized by the deaths of loved ones, military brutality, loss of home. We have to save their psyche during the war,” said the First Lady.
Her Majesty assured: Ukraine can count on the solidarity and assistance of the Belgian people. In particular, Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, has extensive working experience in hotspots, having participated in Médecins Sans Frontières missions in Liberia and Somalia. Therefore, according to Queen Mathilde, he can pass on to Ukraine all the practices that were successfully applied during the reform of the Belgian mental health system.
“I understand your desire to take all measures to help people in such difficult times. It is important to invest in prevention programs and work with the consequences now, even if the war is not over yet,” Her Majesty said.
The program is to strengthen the public sector through cooperation with non-governmental organizations. It provides training for mental health professionals, as well as family physicians, educators and community social workers. The training will cover a wide range of issues, from basic communication and support skills to specialized practices for dealing with the consequences of emergencies.
“We want them all to be able to adopt the best world experience and the latest practices. We have very little time, we can’t spend it on experiments, so we count on the support of the international community to develop and implement the program as soon as possible,” Olena Zelenska stressed.
The President’s wife also thanked Her Majesty the Queen and the Belgians for their support, as the country has already sheltered more than 80,000 Ukrainian IDPs.